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National Guardsman Mike Chisholm of Manchester, facing camera, hugs National Guard Fire Chief William Hardekopf before deploying to Kuwait with five other New Hampshire National Guard firefighters at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Six NH Air National Guardsmen off to Kuwait for 6 months

MANCHESTER — Six New Hampshire Air National Guardsmen left New Hampshire Monday for a six-month deployment in Kuwait, where they will be using their fire-fighting skills.

The six are members of the 157th Civil Engineering Squadron stationed at Pease Air National Guard Base in Newington. New Hampshire National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn said they are the last of 13 guardsmen deployed to Kuwait for six-month stints.

All are members of the fire service that serves Pease Air National Guard Base. Some also work as firefighters in area communities. One works for the postal service.

"They are going to be doing their job in a military capacity in other locations," said William Hardekopf, fire chief at the New Hampshire Air National Guard Base.

"They are all volunteering. This is them volunteering to do their service," he added.

The six departed Manchester-Boston Regional Airport for Norfolk, Va., and are due to arrive in Kuwait by Wednesday, squadron commander Lt. Col. Eugene R. Mossoni said.

For Devin Martin, 19, of Merrimack, the Kuwaiti deployment is part of a lifelong dream of becoming a professional firefighter.

"He has been wanting to do it since he was eight years old. He has always been into fire-fighting or rescues or helping people who have been very ill in different places," Martin's father, Herb, said.

Devin Martin was a member of the Manchester Fire Department's Firefighters Explorers when he was in high school.

When he returns from Kuwait, he plans to take a fire-fighting test with larger city fire departments such as Manchester, Concord or Boston, Mass., or with the Air National Guard's fire force, his father said.

kmarchocki@unionleader.com


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