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Donations Sought for Petaluma National Guard Memorial

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Ottolini.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Ottolini.
Announcement from the History Connection:

Donations are being sought for a new memorial to honor three soldiers killed in Iraq who were part of Petaluma's local National Guard unit.

The bronze memorial will recognize Michael Ottolini, Andre Tyson and Patrick McCaffrey.

 • Sgt. 1st Class Michael Ottolini, 45, of Sebastopol was killed when a bomb exploded under his Humvee.

 •Lt. Andre Tyson, 33, of Riverside and Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey, 34, of Tracy, were both killed when an Iraqi National Guard soldier accompanying them on patrol turned his weapon on them.

For decades before Iraq, the California National Guard had been used primarily to contend with natural disasters and other crises inside the state. Guard enlistees could count on relatively light weekend duty and summer training camp but with the manpower needs of Iraq the "weekend warrior" era ended.

The Petaluma-based Alpha Company, 579th Engineer Battalion had suffered one of the highest casualty rates among all Guard units serving in Iraq.

"Many people may not be aware that Petaluma's 579th is California's Most Decorated Combat Company," said Joe Noriel of History Connection. "These are so much more then citizen soldiers, these men and woman are often times in the direct line of fire. This memorial will honor the sacrifice of these three brave men."

Following the events of September 11th, 2001, the soldiers responded overwhelmingly to the request for volunteers to guard airports, bridges and military installations.  

A/579th from Petaluma was the first company to deploy to theater in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II.  The 145th Engineer Company was the first company to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  

Since that time the majority of the battalion’s soldiers have deployed in support of the Golbal War on Terrorism for Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Multi-National Forces Observers, GTMO, & KFOR.  Many soldiers have been on multiple deployments.

In 2006, the Battalion was re-organized as part of the National Guard transformation into a Modular Force. A/579 was re-flagged as the 235th Engineer Company (Sapper).

The monument will be located at the National Guard Armory, 580 Vallejo St., Petaluma.

Tax deductible donations can be made to:

Patrick McCaffrey Foundation. PO Box 694 Sonoma, CA. 95476

Or via Paypal at http://www.patrickmccaffreyfoundation.org

For more information, contact: Joe Noriel, History Connection, at Historyconnected@gmail.com or Paul Hoffman, Iraq veteran, at  PMF220604@hotmail.com.

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