They cannot say where they are going and do not know when they will return, but four officers and 10 enlisted members of a Naval Reserve unit based in Pomona were called to active duty Sunday, received their orders Tuesday and should be overseas by this weekend.
Hipolito Gonzales, 42, a postal worker from Duarte, said he wasn’t surprised when he received a call at 3:30 a.m. Sunday ordering him to report at 8:30 that morning.
“That’s why we’re in the reserves: to serve our country,” Gonzales said. “We train and when the call comes, we’re ready.”
The Pomona Naval Reserve Center has 250 reservists, but only a 14-member Military Sealift Command unit of cargo handlers has been activated so far.
James Arender, 42, of Fontana said he and other reservists called to duty because of the crisis in the Middle East will suffer the hardships of being away from their families and losing income.
“It will be about a 30% reduction in income for my family, but that’s an inconvenience I was prepared for,” Arender said. “It’s not the end of the world.”
Reservists who are called up receive military pay and benefits.
Arender, who served in the Marines in Vietnam in 1969, has been in the Naval Reserve since 1972. He works as a construction inspector for the city of Los Angeles and has a wife and two children, 15 and 10.
One of two women in the group, Judith Boehm, a clerk-typist for the city of Ontario, said her two children, both in their mid-20s, were surprised that she was called and told her that she is too old to go. But Boehm, who wouldn’t give her age, said she doesn’t think of herself as old, just seasoned.
Boehm served in the Army for three years and then joined the Naval Reserve in 1980 after several years of civilian life. “I wanted to get back in the military stream of life,” she said. “I really liked it when I was in the Army. I wanted to do something with my life. I wanted to learn and grow.”
During her annual two-week training in the reserves, Boehm said, she has traveled as far as Norway and Scotland. She said she is looking forward to active duty. “It will be a challenge,” she said. “It will intensify my training.”
Cmdr. Albert Anthony Melvin, executive officer of the cargo unit, said he welcomed the call-up as an affirmation of the importance of the reserves. With military budgets shrinking, Melvin said, “there are many people who feel it is very important to rely on the reserves. . . . The key is that the President used the reserves in a time of crisis.”
Melvin said members of the unit are under orders not to disclose their destination but can say that they are going outside the continental United States. He said their duration of service is uncertain but is not expected to exceed 90 days.
Marvin Jordan, 37, of Los Angeles, a radar operator who has been in the Navy for 15 years, including three on active duty, brought his wife, children and other family members when he reported to the reserve center to pick up his orders Tuesday. Jordan said he is not unhappy to be called up. “This is what I’ve been training for and drilling for,” he said.
But his family’s attitude was mixed. His wife, Dorothy, was worried. His 15-year-old daughter, Reneisha, a member of a U.S. Navy Sea Cadet program who shares her father’s enthusiasm for the Navy, said she was happy that he had been chosen to serve, though she added: “I hope he’ll be able to come back soon.”