(Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)
Spc. Richard Navarro of Leachville and his family did not take time for granted during his furlough. Spc. Navarro is with the 875th Engineer Battalion Arkansas National Guard unit.
Navarro has been in the National Guard for eight years. He is a combat engineer. Navarro was originally with the 1123 in Blytheville. He started out with Charlie Co. of Paragould and transferred to Blytheville. He was scheduled to get out of the Guard on Sept. 17 but it was not to happen. Navarro was pulled from the Blytheville unit and attached to the 875th in July.
Navarro said he was just one of several soldiers pulled from several other units. He said he is now in Bravo Co.
"Most of the new people went to Bravo Co.," Navarro said. "The 875th is a great group. Some have worked together for years."
Navarro is married to the former Amanda Imler, and they have a daughter, Halle, 3. Halle was especially happy to have her dad home to celebrate her third birthday.
Mrs. Navarro works for NEA Clinic in the cardiology department. She said they have been really been helpful to her.
"I have not been there long enough to have vacation time but they insisted on me taking off this week while Richard was home," she said.
Navarro works at Nucor Hickman.
"They have been great about my deployment," he said.
Navarro has spent two weeks a year and every other weekend serving for eight years but this is his first time to be deployed. The 875th has been training in Wisconsin since July 22. They were joined with a unit from Vermont and a few from Indiana.
"We have been working together training for the work we will be doing in Iraq," Navarro said. "I feel confident we can perform our duties. We have been trained well."
Navarro said all of the men and women are very grateful to the people of Northeast Arkansas for the fundraising events for Operation Furlough allowing everyone the opportunity to visit with their families before going to Iraq.
"The money raised will also help the 875th and their families in an emergency situation," Mrs. Navarro said.
Seven chartered buses left Wisconsin at 8 p.m. Saturday and arrived in Jonesboro at 8 a.m. Sunday bringing about the soldiers home to their families. The 875th left Thursday to return to Wisconsin to take care of last minute details before going to Iraq.
Navarro graduated from Leachville High School in 1997. He said he joined the National Guard as a means to further his education. He said he plans to continue taking classes when he gets back from Iraq, build a new home, and spend time with his family. He is the son of Manual and Norma Navarro of Leachville.
"My mother-in-law is helping me with Halle, and my father-in-law will help keep everything going at home while Richard is away," Mrs. Navarro said.
Navarro spent time as much time as he could during his days home with Halle and his older daughter, Cierra, 8, who lives in Jonesboro.
"The hardest part for everyone is leaving our families," Navarro said.
The family will stay in touch by e-mail and telephone calls and they are hoping the next year will pass as fast as the furlough days did.