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Gov. Brian Sandoval in Middle East to meet with Nevada troops, see mission first-hand

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By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Brian Sandoval had a teleconference with the Nevada press today from Kuwait, where he is staying in the midst of a week-long trip to the Middle East, including visits with Nevada troops at several bases in Iraq.

Sandoval left Monday with the governors of Kentucky, Tennessee and Utah on the trip, and he expects to return this weekend.

“I’ve had an opportunity and privilege to be on the deployment for our 422nd Signal Battalion and welcome some of our soldiers back, and I thought it was important to show them respect and to come out here and see them and see the conditions that they live in and see on a first-hand basis what they do for our country,” he said.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is on a week-long trip to the Middle East to visit with Nevada troops. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Sandoval said morale among the Nevada troops and other military personnel in Iraq and Kuwait is high, and they have a strong belief in their mission.

Sandoval left from Washington, DC, where he first had the opportunity to meet with new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, stopping in Shannon, Ireland, before arriving in Kuwait.

“We took a C-130 with a group of soldiers into Iraq and arrived there and met with many of the soldiers,” he said. “Then we took a Black Hawk helicopter into another base and met with several other Nevada soldiers.”

Sandoval said he met Nevada troops from Lovelock, Elko, Las Vegas and other areas of the state.

Sandoval visited Ali Al Salem Air Base and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. He also visited Joint Air Base Balad, Taji Air Base, Camp Victory Baghdad and Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval meets service members at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeffrey Schultze)

“The morale here is extremely high,” Sandoval said. “They were proud to be here. And they love their jobs. They are really mission oriented and it is very, very impressive.”

Sandoval said he cannot talk about where he will be going next.

He did say he hasn’t had a wink of sleep since departing on the trip.

Sandoval said that as commander in chief of the Nevada National Guard, it was important for him to see the mission first hand. He met with all the generals in command in Iraq and received a thorough briefing on the status of the mission.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval answers questions from Master Sgt. Christian Cantrill, (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeffrey Schultze)

“The soldiers from Nevada were extremely happy to see the governor of their state, and it was very gratifying for me to be able to give them hugs and let them know that we care deeply about their service to our country and that they make our state very proud,” he said. “But they were very pleasantly surprised that I was here.

“People of our state need to know that they can be very proud of their Nevadans that are serving in the guard or full-time military,” Sandoval said. “They’re working their tails off. They look great. They’re healthy, they’re happy, they’re eager to serve. And it just was a privilege and very humbling for me to have an opportunity to come over here and see them.”

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval says it is important for him to see Nevada’s troops deployed to the Middle East first hand:

080211Sandoval1 :19 for our country.”

Sandoval says the Nevada soldiers were pleasantly surprised to get a visit from the governor:

080211Sandoval2 :23 I was here.”

Sandoval says Nevadans can be proud of the work Nevada’s soldiers are doing in Iraq and Kuwait:

080211Sandoval3 :23 and see them.”

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