Martin C. Evans

Posts Tagged ‘69th Infantry Regiment’

Katrina’s Lessons To Guide Guard Deployment During Irene

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Acting to spare local Guard troops the possibility of having to chose between duty and family, National Guard leaders in Albany will send troops from elsewhere in New York State to assist local emergency crews during Hurricane Irene’s expected battering of Long Island.

Heeding a state of emergency declared today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Albany has ordered a detachment of 220 soldiers from western New York State – complete with heavy trucks, chain saws and emergency equipment – to ride out the storm at the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale. Another 290 troops will be on call at Camp Smith, just north of New York City.

The troops and equipment would be ordered into action should local leaders on Long Island ask for help.

Meanwhile, Army and Air National Guard aircraft based at MacArthur Airport in Patchogue and at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach spent today and yesterday being moved to airfields out of the storm’s path.

At Gabreski airfield, which is home to several C-130 cargo planes, aircraft from the 106th Air Rescue wing began leaving Thursday. Crew members with the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment were to fly five Army National Guard UH-60 helicopters to Rochester from their base at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. The unit’s remaining three helicopters, which are undergoing maintenance, will be secured in hangers.

The Guard’s decision to call on troops from outside the area for disaster relief was based on the experience of emergency responders during Hurricane Katrina, said Guard spokesman Eric Durr.

With their own families threatened by rising waters during Katrina’s 2005 battering of New Orleans, many emergency workers there were unable to report for duty, which hampered rescue and recovery efforts.

“And remember, many of our Guard members themselves have day jobs as local policemen or firefighters, or have families of their own who might need help,” Durr said.

Durr said an additional 225 Guard troops from upstate would be available to join emergency crews in New York City, with 150 stationed at Camp Smith and another 75 an armory in Harlem.


Guard Guys Going Again

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2011 at 10:36 am

It’s official.

Individuals from local N.Y. Army National Guard units will be back in Afghanistan in about 10 months, according to Guard headquarters in Albany.

The deployment will include members of two local units: the 69th Infantry Regiment, which has armories in Bay Shore, Freeport and Huntington, and the 258th Field Artillery, which has a headquarters in Jamaica, Queens.

They will be among some 2,200 soldiers who will deploy as part of the NY Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Deploying soldiers will take part in a two-week training session at Ft. Drum this spring, followed by a longer combat training session in California in the fall.

The official mission of the Combat Team is to train and equip Afghani security forces during about 10 months in Afghanistan.

But they likely will see direct combat in a conflict that has been increasingly bloody.

Annual U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan have increased every year since 2006, reaching 499 last year according to, a 57 percent increase over 2009. At least four Long Islanders were killed in 2010.

Afghanistan 69th Vet a Smithtown Fatality

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Seamus Byrne survived a bomb explosion while serving with the 69th Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan. But the father of two could not dodge death early Sunday on Smithtown’s Main Street.

Seamus Byrne, receiving Purple Heart at January 2009 ceremony at Bay Shore armory. (Newsday photo, Charlie Eckert)

Byrne was hit by a passing car moments after leaving Napper Tandy’s, a local bar where he had spent several hours celebrating his 33rd birthday with his wife and friends, Newsday is reporting. He was pronounced dead at Stony Brook University Medical Center at 1:45 a.m..

In January, 2009, Byrne returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, during which he earned a Purple Heart for a concussion and other injuries suffered when a suicide bomber attacked the Humvee Byrne was riding in.

“There are a lot of other guys that deserve this kind of recognition,” Byrne said then during a medal ceremony at the National Guard armory in Bay Shore. “But it’s an honor.”

Byrne was struck near Lawrence Ave. shortly after leaving the bar, when he turned back across Main Street to say goodbye to someone. The driver of the car, Michael Armentano, 24, of Smithtown, has not been charged.

Word of Byrne’s death shook members of the closely-knit community of soldiers and family members associated with the 69th Infantry, which has sent soldiers to both Iraq and Afghanistan from armories in Huntington, Bay Shore and Freeport.

Eric Farina, a former 69th sergeant, said he felt he got to know Byrne particularly well when the two men shared conversation during a guard shift in Afghanistan.

“He revealed himself to be a passionate patriot, father, husband and family man,” recalled Farina, of East Northport. “He loved his wife and (children) with an uncommon intensity and seemed fiercely protective of them both.”

Jean Dudenhoffer, who had helped care for the spouses and children of deployed troops while serving as an organizer of the regiment’s Family Readiness Group, was stunned when told of Byrne’s death. Byrne had a son, aged 10 and a daughter, 3.

“I just can’t talk right now,” said Dudenhoffer, whose son Mark served with Byrne during the Afghanistan deployment. “He was one of the boys.”

NY Guard Compiling Soldiers’ Stories

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm

In the memories of the 6,000 New York Guard troops who have served in battle since 9/11 reside tales of courage and cowardice, determination and despair, loneliness and loss.

Now, Guard officials want those soldiers to contribute their personal accounts and photographs to a digital archive of the New York Army National Guard’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan since NY Guard troops were first sent there in the winter of 2003.


Members of the NY Guard's "Fighting 69th," during a St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan.




Dubbed “Remember My Service,” the project is financed by the National Guard Bureau and is designed to help gather detailed historic information for inclusion in Army National Guard official records.

The Guard will send e-mails to current and former Guard soldiers who served active duty beginning in the winter of 2003, including more than 300 Long Islanders. The e-mails will urge soldiers to submit photos and personal stories on line and in person during project meetings at selected armories around New York.

While all deployed units will be included in the project, it is being built around specific units, including  the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry (“Fighting 69th and Task Force Wolfhound”), which deployed in Iraq in 2005, and Guard aviation units, including the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, based at MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.

Veterans wishing to participate can register at A link to this site can be found at the Division of Military and Naval Affairs website at

The project will be run in part by Story Rock, a Utah-based company specializing in collecting and organizing archival information. Story Rock has already completed similar projects for  Guard units in other states and  some active duty Army units.

The stories will be compiled on commemorative compact discs, which are scheduled for release during ceremonies at armories around New York in May 2011. They will also be included in the Guard’s archives at the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs, and in the  National Guard Bureau’s national archives.


Irish Army Reinforces “Fighting 69th” Marchers

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Members of the "Fighting 69th"

New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade had a particularly authentic addition Wednesday, when soldiers from the Irish Defense Force joined members of the New York Army National Guard’s “Fighting 69th” in the annual march up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Wednesday’s parade marked the first official military unit of the Irish Defence Forces to march in America since the funeral of President John F Kennedy in 1963, an officer with the unit said.

“We have never marched a U.S. and Irish unit together here for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade,” Lt. Col. John Andonie, commander of Ireland’s 58th Reserve Infantry Battalion, said at the unit armory. “This is the first time ever.”

The 38 Irish Reservists marched separately from the 69th, which traditionally leads the New York City marchers. But they did join the more than 800 soldiers of the New York Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment and support elements for mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral before the parade, and later for an Irish-themed reception at the Guard’s Lexington Ave. armory.

“This is truly a great honor and privilege for the 58th Reserve Infantry Battalion,” Commandant Gerry Jordan, unit spokesman, told the Irish Examiner newspaper before the trip to New York. “This has been reflected in the number of members taking part, totally at their own expense.”

Deployments boost emotional disorder likelihood among military wives.

In Women on January 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan boost the likelihood of emotional disorders among wives who are left behind, according to a study in the Jan. 14 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The wives of deployed soldiers report higher rates of depression, sleeplessness, stress and adjustment disorders, according to researchers with the epidemiology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Longer deployments resulted in a greater likelihood of mental disorders.

The findings bolster observations made by therapists at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s Rosen Family Wellness Center, who say worry over the safety of their spouse, loneliness and the added pressure of caring for children and maintaining a household on their own exacts a big emotional toll from military spouses.

The findings could be particularly significant to families associated with Long Island-based National Guard and Reserve units that have served combat tours, such as the 2/25th Marine the 800th Military Police Brigade, and companies of the 69th Infantry Regiment.

That is because Guard and Reserve units generally lack access to the kind of large military bases where there is an abundance of support services and social networks available to help military spouses cope – supports that are more available to families living on big military bases such as Ft. Drum, N.Y. or Ft. Hood, Texas.

In reaching their conclusions, researchers studied the outpatient medical records of 250,626 wives of Army soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The women had received care between 2003 and 2006.

Wives whose husbands were deployment for more than 11 months were nearly 40 percent more likely to report excess depression, about a quarter more likely to report sleeplessness and almost 20 percent more likely to show extreme anxiety.

69th Infantry Regiment honors one of its 7 Medal of Honor Recipients

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2010 at 12:59 am

Alejandro Ruiz, with his blue-ribboned Medal of Honor. (Photo: LA Times)

One desperate day in the final months of World War II, a soldier affiliated with the “Fighting 69th” twice charged an array of enemy pillboxes in an Okinawa battle, earning him the nation’s highest military honor.

Now, members of the New York National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment are honoring the solder, Alejandro R. Ruiz, who died of congestive heart failure Nov. 23 in Napa, California. A Washington Post obituary appears here.

Ruiz’s Medal of Honor is one of seven held by members of 69th Infantry Regiment, a storied unit once dubbed “The Irish Brigade” that has served in every major U.S. conflict dating back to the Civil War.

Lieutenant Colonel John Andonie, from Clifton Park, N.Y., and his senior enlisted soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge Vasquez from Jackson Heights, N.Y. will travel to Calif. this weekend to meet with the Ruiz family and present honors at Ruiz’ grave, according to a National Guard release.

The ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Veterans Home at Yountville, California, a Napa Valley facility where Ruiz lived his final years.

Ruiz, the son of a Mexican immigrant, joined the army in 1944 after being accused of stealing a cow in his native New Mexico. A judge offered the choice of jail or the Army.

Ruiz chose the Army. He was assigned to the 165th Infantry Regiment, the wartime designation of the 69th Infantry.

On April 28, 1945, Pfc. Ruiz was with a patrol seeking remnants of a Japanese battalion hiding in fortified emplacements on steep ridges near the Okinawan  village of Gasukuma.

During an ambush that killed all but himself and his squad leader, Ruiz charged at a row of pillboxes that had his squad pinned down, eventually reaching the bunkers and silencing their gunfire.

He stayed in the Army after the war, retiring as a Master Sergeant in 1964.

Women vets don’t get same welcome home

In Uncategorized, Women on December 15, 2009 at 12:16 am

Female GIs at Baghram Airbase, near the deadly Pakistan border. All of them are carrying rifles.

Women soldiers who return from combat aren’t treated with the same honor and respect as men are, even though women  serve as turret gunners, convoy drivers and other shot-at positions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That has left many women returning from war zones feeling rejected and depressed once their battlefield service is up, according to an Associated Press article.

“People didn’t come up to us and thank us for our service in the same way,” Sgt. Kayla Williams, 34,  told the Associated Press.  “They didn’t give us free beers in bars in the same way when we first got back.”

Joanne Lombardi, of Miller Place, a volunteer who helps wounded veterans, said women soldiers are often overlooked because combat traditionally has been associated with men.

“I’ve made the same mistake myself,” Lombardi said. “You see a woman in a restaurant with a group of soldiers and assume she is a wife or a girlfriend — not a soldier herself.”

Some female veterans say even male colleagues with whom they built strong soldier-to-soldier relationships while deployed shun them once they come home, often because spouses or girlfriends are suspicious of their professional closeness.

Isolation from colleagues  leaves war veterans more vulnerable to post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxieties, say psychological social workers at the Rosen Family Wellness Center, a treatment center for returning soldiers.  Lack of recognition also denies female veterans the social networks men enjoy, making it harder for them to find jobs and transition back to civilian life.

Many female vets have said they have come to doubt the value of their own service, and have not sought veterans services as frequently as men.

“What worries me is that women themselves still don’t see themselves as veterans, so they don’t get the care they need for post-traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic brain injury or even sexual assault, which obviously is more unique to women,” said Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee. “So we still have a long way to go.”

More than 185,000 women have been deployed since the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to a Dec. 5 resolution in Congress honoring women in the military. In all, 350,000 women currently are serving in the military.

Where is your soldier in Afghanistan?

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2009 at 10:32 am

A U.S. soldier earlier this year in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, near a lawless region of the border with Pakistan. Another soldier, Lt. Michael P. Murhy, a Navy Seal from Patchogue, was killed near here in 2005.

Ever wonder where in Afghanistan your loved one is deployed?

The Washington Post can’t tell you where your son, your sweetie or your cousin “Gus” is spending the night. But a graphic on its website shows where in that Texas-sized country U.S. troops are stationed.

It also tells where the troops of our “partners” in the Afghanistan war are positioned. And they are not exactly shoulder-to-shoulder with us.

Most U.S. troops are arrayed along Afghanistan’s eastern and southern borders – areas that just happen to be home to the most Taliban activity, or the busiest opium and gun smuggling operations.

The troops of our partners mostly keep order in the quieter areas of Afghanistan, away from the rugged and dangerous border with Pakistan.

Here is a link to the Washington Post map differentiating U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Not exactly an equal commitment..


Eighteen months or 18 years?

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Karzai (in hat), or Obama (in frustration): Who's prediction will be best on Afghanistan?

I wonder which president, Obama or Karzai, will be closer to right about how long it will be before U.S. troops can leave Afghanistan.

If it is the Afghan president and not the American one, expect Long Island units that have recently returned from war to have to go back again and again and again.

This week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it would be 15 to 20 years before his country could afford to field the kind of military needed to keep the country from disintegrating into chaos.

“For a number of years, maybe for another 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan would not be able to sustain a force of that nature and capability with its own resources,” Karzai said during a joint news conference with U.S. Defense Secretary Bill Gates Dec. 8 in Kabul.

Gates later said he was surprised by Karzai’s estimate.

But if Karzai is right, it will be a minimum of 165 months before U.S. troops would be fully free to leave Afghanistan, according to the most conservative estimate of the guy Afghans “elected” to run the place.

That’s a lot longer than what President Barack Obama implied in a speech two weeks ago before cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, when he said the U.S. would begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in 18 months.

A lengthly U.S. involvement increases the likelihood that Long Island-based National Guard and Reserve units, including the 69th Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion,/25th Marine Reserve, will be sent back to the battlefield. The two units returned from combat deployments earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the guy appointed to run the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, indicates he also thinks it may be a long while before American troops come home.

McChrystal told Congress last week that the U.S. must persuade the Taliban U.S. troops will be in Afghanistan for a long time if we are to reverse their momentum there – momentum that has resulted in more U.S. casualties in Afghanistan this year than ever before.

Talk of a long commitment in Afghanistan is not sitting well with top Democrats in Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Wisconsin congressman David Obey, who also wields big-time influence as chair of the purse-strings-controlling House Appropriations Committee, are key players who have given voice to a broad unease with the war among Congressional Democrats.

Last year’s Democratic Party surge gained much of its momentum from voter disillusionment with the war.