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Local Soldier's Christmas In Kuwait

On Tuesday, Dec. 3, Floral Park resident and activated Army Reservist Manny Rodriguez arrived in Kuwait, to begin his service term with the New York Army National Guard. From Kuwait, Rodriguez told the Floral Park Dispatch in an online interview about his choice to recently re-enlist. Rodriguez had previously served in the Marine Corps Reserve from June 1987 to June 1993. During that time, in addition to the monthly reserve drills, he served actively several times for training assignments and then was activated in 1991 for

Operation Desert Shield/Storm with the V Marine Expeditionary Force. 

 

In June 1995, after the two years of Inactive Ready Reserve, Rodriguez was discharged as a Marine Corps sergeant.

 

Several years ago, Rodriguez began to explore the options of returning to reserve duty. He said, “By then I had a degree in IT [information technology] and was working [in the civilian sector].” Returning to reserve duty with the New York Army National Guard offered him the opportunity to also work in his career field on a part-time basis, deploying and maintaining satellite communications. “Fortunately, it worked out perfectly; my civilian employer has been very supportive and accommodating with the time required for military duty,” added Rodriguez.

 

“I returned to military service because I had the ‘itch’ to return for many years [before making the decision]; aside from the sense of duty and contributing to our country’s security, I missed the training, discipline and the unequaled camaraderie that comes along with it,” said Rodriguez. “On more than one occasion I mention it to my wife {Evelyn] who was supportive of the idea of me joining the Reserves or National Guard.” Rodriguez and his wife decided it was best for their family to wait, that he not return to service at that time. 

 

“Two years ago, I realized that my son was already in high school and very mature for his age,” said Rodriguez, making his decision with his wife a little easier to make. Their son, Gregory is a senior at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville.

 

No deployment is easy however, especially one that takes a soldier from significant life events or holidays back home.

 

His unit had been training for months for the assignment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait though, and Rodriguez, like many of the troops who had been activated, try their best to prepare their families, and much of the events of their daily lives for their term of separation. 

 

When Rodriguez deployed to Kuwait several weeks ago, the Brownies of Girl Scout Troop #1127 hopped into action. Rodriguez is the immediate past post commander at American Legion Post #1033; the Scouts had marched proudly with him over the past several years in parades and other events supporting local veterans. The Brownies assembled more than a dozen boxes filled with snacks, games, flashlights, calendars and other things collected from Floral Park Raindew Family Center, Stewart Manor Carvel, members Gene

Van Haaren and Richard DiPresso of the American Legion Post #1033, Navy Federal Credit Union at the Merchant Marines base in Kings Point, and from girls’ own friends and families. They began shipping the boxes out just before Christmas, with money they had earned while selling snacks and magazines in a recent fundraising campaign.

 

Rodriguez is currently serving, with his unit of 18 other soldiers, at Camp Buehring in Udairi, Kuwait. He told the Dispatch, “I am making an important contribution while deployed here and looking forward to my return home to my loved ones.”