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A Reminder That War Is Personal

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PHOENIX -- The war in Afghanistan doesn’t touch most of us personally. It’s a conflict thousands of miles away. We occasionally read an article, see a video or hear a story about the 11-year-long war. We’ve heard how all troops will be out by end of next year.

We think, “Oh, that’s great,” and move on.

Until then, American troops will continue to be in harm’s way. And for their families it’s more than a passing thought.

On Sunday I attended the deployment ceremony for the 819th Engineer Company of the Arizona Army National Guard. The unit was preparing for a one-year tour in Afghanistan. As combat engineers, their duties include finding and removing booby traps and explosive devices.

Justin Bayles is on his second tour; his first was to Iraq. He’s leaving a wife who is expecting their first child, and a large extended family. He’s 24 years old.

Richard Rainsley is a little older. This is his first tour. His wife will run the household while he’s gone, taking care of their four kids. He says she’s got the tougher job.

They and the rest of the 819th are scheduled back in a year.

As I saw the tears and hugs, I realized how personal this is for so many people.

And I also thought how much we should thank these men and women and their families for the sacrifices they make.

Arizona National Guard Unit Deployment

Al Macias, former KJZZ news director, is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.