January 5, 2011 - Sgt. Gary Burchfield

January 5, 2011 – Sgt. Gary Burchfield

By John Bridges - bio | email

DEQUINCY, LA (KPLC) - When Louisiana National Guard First Sgt. Gary Burchfield returned from Iraq back in December, he carried with him something special:  a flag that had flown over Tikrit, Iraq.  He delivered it straight to John Mattheson, owner of DeQuincy Home Health.

"They have been extremely supportive of not only me, but my wife and family," said Burchfield.  "My wife's been with them for two deployments.  They've been very supportive anytime I get ready to leave.  They let her take off as much time as she needs."

Mattheson's agency is just one of many in the area who help support the National Guard and their families.  Being a veteran of the Vietnam War, he knows how important that support is to military families.

"The ones that really suffer in these deployments are the families," said Burchfield.  "All you have to do is go out to Fort Polk and see some of the young wives and mothers that are out there alone, waiting for their men to come back."

Burchfield joined the military back in 1981 and has served in Germany, Bosnia, Haiti, along with three tours of duty in Iraq involving Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I was in the engineering company," said Burchfield.  "Our mission was to look for IEDs.  We found over a hundred IEDs and we saved numerous soldiers' lives.  We had several close calls that I will never ever forget."

For more information on nominating employers for the 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, go to www.FreedomAward.mil.

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