By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
BOTHELL — Quan Ta of Edmonds, a private first-class in the Army reserves, is about to be sent on his first deployment overseas — to Afghanistan, no less.
He and others being deployed will be working at Army postal outlets in combat zones.
Ta says he’s not nervous. A reservist for three years, he’s known for a year that he’s going.
“They gave us a lot of time to get prepared,” said Ta, 27, who lives with his mom and sister.
Still, Ta and 18 other reservists are leaving three months earlier than they thought. They were given a sendoff in a ceremony Sunday at the Staff Sgt. Joe Hooper Army Reserve Center in Bothell. About 50 friends and family members attended.
They could be gone a year or more.
“This will mean missing birthdays, graduations, family dinners and children growing up,” Reserve Col. David Ling said at the ceremony.
The reservists belong to the 2nd Platoon of the 909th Human Resources Company, based at the Bothell building. The unit contains 145 reservists from Edmonds to south Puget Sound.
Army reservists train one weekend per month and two full weeks per year. Nationwide they number about 205,000, said Capt. Christopher Larsen, a spokesman based at the Army reserves command office in Marysville.
Most work at other jobs in addition to their service in the Army. Ta has been working for Campbell’s soup in Everett and plans to go back to school when he returns from his deployment.
“These are the traditional citizen soldiers,” Ling said.
Their role in the Army postal service is a vital one, he said, because they help soldiers keep in touch with their families and friends.
“Receiving those letters, those care packages, keeping open the lifeline to people back home is tremendously important,” Ling said.
Bothell City Councilman Tom Agnew, who served as a medic in Vietnam and spoke at Sunday’s ceremony, agreed.
“It was so nice getting that package, the information you really wanted, that was the best thing,” he said.
Reserve units have been getting more support and equipment from the military since 2001, officials said Sunday, and their deployments have been more closely coordinated with those of full-time enlisted personnel.
“We’re an integral part of the team,” Ling said.
Sfc. Samuel Stevens of Kent has been in the reserves for 11 years after serving in the regular Army beforehand. As a reservist he was deployed to Iraq to guard generals, so the assignment in Afghanistan doesn’t intimidate him.
“It’s what we’ve been trained for,” he said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.