Arizona Guard public affairs Soldiers deploy to Cuba

Arizona Guard public affairs Soldiers deploy to Cuba

Soldiers from the Arizona National Guard’s 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment present an Arizona flag Sept. 23 that will accompany them on their nine-month deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (National Guard photo by Spc. Wes Parrell)

PHOENIX – Soldiers from the Arizona National Guard’s 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment will deploy this month to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nine months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


The 123rd’s mission will support media outlets reporting on operations at Task Force Guantanamo in a transparent manner. Additionally, the unit will enhance internal communications by publishing a weekly magazine and contributing video and radio products to the Armed Forces Network for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines assigned to JTF-GTMO.


“I am very excited to deploy and serve with this unit,” said Army Spc. Amber Bohlman. “Our mission gives us the opportunity to make a large impact with international exposure.”


Even though the deployment is expected to last nine months, the sacrifices of the Soldiers and their families are no less difficult, said Guard officials.


“We have been separated in the past, starting with basic training,” said Sherry Durec, mother of Spc. Amber Bohlman. “She is busy and we don’t get to see each other much now, but I always had a peace of mind knowing she was down the road and I could see her anytime. I know what a great opportunity this is for her, and how much she wants to serve her country and I support her for that.”


Army Sgt. Reba Benally balances challenging roles as both a Soldier and single parent of a child with special needs. Friends and family will step in to help at home while she serves abroad.


“I have a great support system,” said Benally. “I have close friends who have served in the military and they have become a second family to my daughter. They have volunteered to care for her during my deployment, and I am grateful to have people like them in my life.”


The 20 Soldiers are part of the few remaining Arizona National Guard members serving on federal active duty overseas. Over 10,000 Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the Arizona National Guard have been called to federal active service since Sept. 11, 2001.



“Although these Soldiers are not deploying to a combat zone, they are operating in the realm of information warfare,” said Army Lt. Col. Kenneth Stice, commander of the 158th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, the unit to which the 123rd is assigned. “In this day in age, this can be the most challenging war to fight. These Soldiers are well trained and I look forward to the day that they return to Arizona with the mission accomplished.”