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July 1, 2009 > Reservists train for dangerous duty

Reservists train for dangerous duty

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By courtesy of Colonel Garrett Yee

More than 5,000 soldiers from 100 Army Reserve units converged during the month of June at Fort Hunter Liggett, in southern Monterey County, to participate in "Pacific Warrior," one of the largest Army Reserve exercises. This Combat Support Training Center (CSTC), on 165,000 acres, provides the location for unique training opportunities to support the effectiveness of these combat units and prepare them for the rigors of deployment.

This year, the 650th Regional Support Group (RSG), out of Nevada, has responsibility over all the units involved. This logistical unit oversees the holding headquarters. The unit's commander, Colonel Garrett Yee, has been a Fremont resident for more than 30 years.

Before his current assignment, Yee had been activated several times since 2003 and served in Iraq for 6 months in support of "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

He was inspired by family members to be patriotic. "My dad served in the army during World War II as well as my great uncle and great aunt."

Asked how his interest in the military began, Yee explained, "In High School I was involved with many service organizations and wanted "to serve others."

A turning point occurred on the way back from a Boy Scout trip to Philmont High Adventure Ranch in New Mexico. Yee and several friends decided to stop at the Colorado Air Force Academy for a tour. All four achieved Eagle ranks with the Scouts and eventually three of the four became involved with the military.

After receiving a Bachelor's degree from Santa Clara University and an MBA from Golden Gate University, Yee continues his tradition of helping others. He currently serves, in an elected position, on the Board of Trustees for the Ohlone Community College District. As for even higher aspirations, Yee is planning on running for the California State Assembly in 2010.

"We care about all the soldiers, men and women, like they're family. My role during 'Pacific Warrior' training is to try to coach and mentor them. I give them the tools and resources to do what they need to do by talking to them, giving guidance to try more complex tasks, in order to improve and sharpen their skill set."

The reservists going through this three week training will have different outcomes. Some will be deployed to home base, while others are in the cycle for deployment next year. Another group may be deployed within the next few months. No matter the case, since this might be their last training exercise, it's taken seriously.

Deployment also depends on the need for assistance in their area of expertise. Army reserve units have specific functions and responsibilities. There's the medical unit for hospitals, military police, for security, water purification, refueling and transportation, to name a few.

According to Yee, "You need to learn to handle the job well in an austere, hostile environment. Having served in Iraq, I tell them how things are and about being alert to the dangers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's hard to be away from your family, but my wife is obviously a saint."

"There are a number of Army reservists in the San Francisco Bay Area and locally," says Yee. "They have jobs and busy lives, getting ready for when they're needed. These citizen soldiers have dedicated their service to their country. Quietly serving, they're doing their part to be there when needed. This applies to all Air Force, Army and Navy reservists as well as the regular military servicemen and women."

"We're all in this together, making sure we get the job done. I am thankful to the men and women that serve our country in all capacities."

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