Roman tells about life while deployed with Missouri National Guard

Sgt. Ed Roman of Versailles is on his third deployment with the Missouri National Guard in Iraq.

By Matthew J. Wilson

Editor's note: An 11-member section of the Missouri National Guard's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 135th Theater Aviation Battalion, of Lebanon, is more than halfway through its one-year deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

Its mission is to provide command and control, supervision, staff planning and unit level personnel service and logistical support for all units that belong to or are attached to the theater aviation battalion.

As part of its 24-hour-a-day mission, the unit performs command and control for 11 C-23 Sherpas, four C-12 Hurons and one UC-35 Cessna Citation. Through the use of these fixed-wing aircraft, the unit will provide a forward deployed aviation battalion, which provides air movement of cargo, personnel, and military/civilian dignitaries from the United States, NATO, and Iraq, throughout Iraq and the Central Command Area.

These Guardsmen also are responsible for the flight following air tasking orders, mission scheduling, and diplomatic flight clearances for all aircraft assigned to the battalion.

So far, the unit has planned and supported more than 1,400 missions, which have transported about 1.2 million pounds of cargo and more than 9,000 passengers over the course of more than 5,000 flight hours.

The following is a look into the deployment experience during the holidays of one of the unit's members.


BALAD, IRAQ - Sgt. Ed Roman, who lives in Versailles, is proud to currently be into his third deployment in his eight year career as a member of the Missouri National Guard.

"I have volunteered for two out of three deployments because I have ample experience and I felt it would benefit new Soldiers and the mission," Roman said. "I serve my country because there are folks that do not want to, so I step up so they do not have to."

Although being deployed is difficult, Roman said it's not difficult for the reason a lot of folks expect.

"Most people believe that the dangers that surround us daily are what make a deployment hard," he said. "Actually, being away from Family and friends is the hardest part. Not being able to hold my children is one of the most challenging things I have ever had to endure."

At home, Roman has a wife, Tami, two sons, Hediberto III, 15, and Chase, 8, and two daughters, Bailee, 5, and Kayla, 3.

Being away from them and others has taught Roman much.

"Don't take for granted the time you have with your Family and friends," he said. "You never know what you are missing until you become separated for a long period of time."
Since he won't be able to be with his Family during the holidays in person and participate in Family gatherings with his folks and in-laws, Roman said he'll rely on technology to bring them closer to him.

"I plan to be on the Internet using a Web cam to partake in holiday festivities," he said. "I want nothing more than to watch my children open their gifts Christmas morning."

If he had one Christmas wish, Roman said it would be to return from deployment early and not have to leave his Family again. When he does return, Roman already knows the first thing he wants to do.

"I want to hug my wife and children," he said.

Before he deployed, Roman was a battalion assistant operations noncommissioned officer for the 1st Battalion, 135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, at Whiteman Air Force Base, during the week. When he returns, he'll work as a freight broker agent out of his home.

Roman's Christmas list is short.

"I just want to have my shop/garage built and finished," he said. "I have not had the time or money to finish it because my Family necessities come first, so I am hoping for a miracle."

Aside from being home with his Family, Roman says what he misses most while deployed are the things most Americans take for granted every day.

"I miss the freedom of being able to get in my truck and drive wherever I feel like, as well as wearing civilian clothes," he said.

But there are things he doesn't miss, as well, like paying for bottled water, food and fuel.

Now well into his third one-year deployment to Iraq, Roman said he's seeing some changes there for the better.

"The environment is the same, but the conflict is decreasing," he said.

While deployed, Roman has been touched by seeing several young Soldiers quickly grow into men and women. He's also learned valuable life lessons.

"In order to accomplish a mission or goal, you have got to put aside any hard feelings and be part of a team," he said.

Although more than 6,800 miles and nine time zones away from home, Roman wants people from Missouri to honor service members currently deployed and assist those in their community during the holidays.

"I hope people pray for the Soldiers and their Families to soon be reunified safely, but mostly, I hope they help someone that is less fortunate than them in any way," Roman said.

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