National Guardsmen return home

William Thompson

Five National Guardsmen from Tucumcari are coming home after nearly two years at Cannon Air Force in Clovis. Guardsmen Jason Braziel, Roberto Gallegos and Ricardo Sanchez will be returning to their jobs with city government while Sgt. Tim Clark and Anthony Alarcon will be returning to their jobs as special education teachers with Tucumcari Public Schools.

The guardsmen left Tucumcari in January 2003. They were only supposed to be gone for one year, but President Bush extended their deployment due to the war in Iraq.
Both the city of Tucumcari and Tucumcari Public Schools were honored last Friday in Clovis for keeping jobs open for the returning soldiers. William Reentz, Superintendent of Tucumcari Schools said government employers are required to hold jobs open for National Guardsmen on deployment. “The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve gave us a plaque recognizing us for keeping the jobs open,” said Reents. “Even though we are required as a government entity to keep the jobs open, I think they were showing us their appreciation for the hardship it places on us.”

Assistant City Manager Marty Garcia said he is pleased to know that Braziel, Sanchez and Gallegos are returning to their city posts. “We obviously appreciate their service to our country,” said Garcia. “Roberto Gallegos will return to work for the water department. Ricardo Sanchez will be returning to his job at the waste water plant and Jason Braziel will return to his job as a city police officer.”

Reents said it was difficult to make arrangements to keep the teaching jobs open because of the length of the deployment. “It was a hardship because Tim Clark and Anthony Alarcon were certified staff members that were supposed to come back at a certain time, but the president extended their deployment. That’s certainly not their fault, but In the meantime we had to hire special ed teachers on a temporary basis to take their place.”

Both Clark and Alarcon taught at Tucumcari Middle School prior to their deployment. Bertha Garcia, an administrative assistant for Tucumcari Schools, said Alarcon will remain as a middle school special ed teacher, but she thinks it is likely that Clark will move over to teach special ed at the high school when he reports back to work. Clark will be able to spend more time with the latest addition to his family when he returns from deployment shortly before Thanksgiving.
“My wife in Tucumcari had a baby right after I arrived at Cannon,” said Clark, “so I spent a lot of time driving back and forth from Clovis to Tucumcari,” said Clark. “The transition from middle school teaching to high school teaching should be a smooth transition. I’m just a little anxious in returning home because I could possibly be reactivated and sent somewhere else.”