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Fellow reservists aid families of deployed
For military reservists like US Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Pedro Villa and others, the one skill they all need, in a figurative sense beyond military-can do and engineering know-how, is juggling a family life, service and a typical career.
"My weekends are taken up," he said. "It takes a lot more dedication than people might think."
Because many reservists at Beale have similar experiences to Villa, who has a wife and a railroad engineering job with Union Pacific in Roseville in addition to his reserve duties at Beale Air Force Base, they form a support network much like a family, Villa said.
Senior Master Sgt. William Smith, the squadron manager for the 940th Wing at Beale, said there is an understanding between those who are deployed and those who stay behind.
"They might be leaving at inopportune times, in the middle of the night, around the holidays," said Smith, who said Beale's sent more than 40 engineers to Afghanistan this year. "We trust them going out because they've been trained."
While they're gone, Smith and Villa said, those reservists can concentrate on their duties because of the established network. If a lawn needs mowing, or a garage has to be cleaned out, the homefront reservists will help out while another reservist is overseas, they said.
Wing squadron commander Col. Kevin Cavanagh said for the deployed, their engineering skills are critical for the overall military mission.
"The armed forces are a unique organization that's very streamlined," he said. "Every part that goes out there has a specific mission."
And when a dangerous situation like the one Villa experienced earlier this year arises, Cavanagh said, all reservists, regardless of branch, know how to respond.
Villa, who joined the Air Force Reserve after 10 years in the US Air Force, said he has told his wife, even after he suffered a concussion on a mortar attack on his last Afghanistan deployment, he would go back in a heartbeat.
While he's headed up engineering crews in Afghanistan, Villa said he doesn't let a heavy equipment operator beg off electrical work, or other specialized engineers stay in their comfort zones.
"Everybody does everybody's job," he said.