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AL ASAD, Iraq ? Petty Officer 2nd Class Andy Roberts, an administrator and load planner with Mobile Air Cargo Handling Team 3 and Willard, Mo., native, is serving for the first time in Iraq in his 17-year Navy reserves? career.

Photo by Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Cargo handling sailor supports aviation supply route in Iraq

11 Aug 2005 | Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Petty Officer 2nd Class Andy Roberts, an administrator and load planner with Mobile Air Cargo Handling Team 3 is a 17-year veteran of the Navy reserves. He and his unit are supporting the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in the fight against terror.

Although untimely requiring he leave his pregnant wife and three children, Roberts took the news of his impending deployment in stride.

“It is what every reservist and active duty military member signs up for,” Roberts said. “When the word comes that you need to go, you go no questions asked.”

Roberts and the other members of the cargo handling team have spent many long days preparing pallets of aircraft parts for delivery and ensuring they get on the proper aircraft and are moved to their final destination in western Iraq.

“We help Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 get aircraft parts to the bases around the Al Anbar province,” Roberts said. “We help keep the readiness of the entire wing high so they are able to effectively complete their mission.”

Roberts, a 1986 graduate of Willow Springs High School in Willow Springs, Mo., started college after high school. After two years of school and odd jobs, Roberts began his military service in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1988.

“With grandfathers, uncles and my father all serving at least a four-year enlistment in the armed services, I felt it was something I should do,” Roberts said. “I guess it was a strong family tradition that led me to serve.”

Roberts has seen his share of travel with the military. Since being in the reserves Roberts has had many experiences he would not have had otherwise. From Japan to Europe he has been around the globe on small two week drills.

“Being able to see the world was a big reason I wanted to join,” Roberts said. “I have been a part of small exercises all over the world. I experienced things I never thought I would have the opportunity to do.”

In the late 1990s, continuing his service in the Navy reserves, Roberts also went back to school for his degree; a goal he wanted to accomplish. He received his bachelor’s degree in marketing and sales management from Southwest Missouri State University in 1998.

“Gaining my degree was something I wanted to do for myself,” Roberts said. “It helped me get a better job, but more importantly it was about finishing something I had started more than a decade before.”

Being called to active duty and deploying for more than a couple of weeks is something Roberts has never done. With this being his first “long deployment,” Roberts has a mix of emotions ranging from excitement to sadness when he thinks of home. With the birth of his fourth daughter, Roberts is anxious to see all five women in his life.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to come out here, but now I think about how bad I want to see my newborn. It makes it that much harder to focus on the mission,” Roberts said. “But the work has to be done.”

With the importance of the mission, Roberts and the rest of the Missouri based MACH team continue to charge ahead in a high paced environment. They continue to strive for excellence, so the rhythm of the forward deployed 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing continues its stride to ensure Iraqi freedom.

*For more information about this story please e-mail Cpl. Alex Herron at*    

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