2 N.J. Guardsmen share stories of the front lines

As the country comes up on the five-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion, two New Jersey National Guardsmen are remembering their time on the front lines in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Five years after the fighting started in Iraq and nearly eight years since the war on terror began in Afghanistan, thousands of New Jersey National Guard members have joined the battle.

Col. Walter Alvarado, of Howell, spent 14 months in Afghanistan commanding a battalion of more than 200 men and women.

?It was a tremendous accomplishment in that I brought everybody back,? Alvarado says.

Alvarado is one of 7,000 members who served overseas carrying out support missions, security and combat operations.

?There were two groups that were there last year for 12 months and then at the last minute got extended for another three, so they are there, boots on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan,? Lt. Col. James Garcia says.

The New Jersey National Guard is getting ready for its largest deployment since World War II. As 3,000 Guard members prepare to leave for Iraq over the summer, approximately 75 Guard members will return to the Garden State shortly.

For an extended interview with Col. Alvarado, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

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