150 Hawaii soldiers deploy for Afghanistan - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

150 Hawaii soldiers deploy for Afghanistan

Sgt. Leif Anderson Sgt. Leif Anderson
Maj. Gen. Robert Lee Maj. Gen. Robert Lee
Spc. Shane Gardner Spc. Shane Gardner

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 150 soldiers will spend one last night in Hawaii before leaving for Afghanistan Wednesday. They'll be gone 10 months and for many it's the second time overseas.

The United Stated launched its biggest offensive in Afghanistan to date a few days ago and now soldiers from Hawaii are going to build the infrastructure and pave the way for thousands more troops to follow.

The 230th Engineer Company has a variety of people. The unit is based on Maui but has someone from every island except Lanai. Thirty other soldiers from Montana, Delaware, Guam and American Samoa will be joining them.

There are men and women. Some are grandfathers near the end of their career.

"I'm anxious to get it over with, and then I can retire," said Sgt. Leif Anderson, from Haleiwa.

Others are just starting, like Specialist Shane Gardner who just got married.

"Being married feels great. Leaving, eh," said Spec. Gardner.

"It's hard," said Ali Gardner, finishing her husband's thought.

The unit is made up of carpenters, electricians, mechanics and plumbers. They'll build roads, buildings and fences for the more than 30,000 troops for future missions. Before engineers would get infantry protection while they worked, but not anymore.

"We need you to also defend yourselves doing your projects," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, in his speech to the troops at the deployment ceremony.

Each and every one of them has been trained on more specialty weapons they'll have on hand. The last deployment they didn't.

"The Taliban sure had you outgunned," said Maj. Gen. Lee.

It's that type of risk that causes some worry, but many of the soldiers have been there before. Sgt. Anderson is being deployed for the second time. This after he just welcomed his son home from his own deployment.

They haven't left yet and are already thinking about coming home.

"I just want to get there and get everything done so I can come home and hopefully start a life," said Spec. Gardner, as he looks at his wife.

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