The largest Guard deployment since Korea.
You might think Raymond Anthony had already done enough for his country. During four tours in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, Anthony was wounded six times.
He bears a long bayonet scar on his face. He was shot in the chest with an enemy AK-47, strafed by jets and blown out of a landing craft by North Vietnamese artillery.
But the 57-year-old state office worker, who joined a California National Guard unit here eight years ago so he could qualify for military retirement pay, was severely wounded again in July when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his Humvee during a night patrol outside Baghdad.
News reports last week noted that the number of U.S. casualties during the occupation of Iraq has surpassed those suffered during the initial 6-week invasion. Increasingly, those in harm's way are not from elite regular Army and Marine fighting units. Rather, like Anthony, some casualties come from mobilized National Guard and reserve forces sent to provide security...
According to National Guard spokesman Dan Donohue, there are about 30,500 guardsmen and women serving in Iraq and Kuwait — about 18% of the total 166,000 U.S. forces.
Records show this to be the largest National Guard battlefield presence since the Korean War. During the entire Vietnam conflict, for example, only 7,040 National Guard soldiers and fliers went to war.
With more than 1,500 men and women stationed in Iraq, the California National Guard is one of the largest state contingents of these "citizen soldiers" stationed in the Iraq-Kuwait theater. (Florida, with more than 2,000 soldiers and airmen posted there, is the largest.)