Veteran Salute: Combat Engineer helps clear the way

Veteran Salute

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When a Wichita soldier reported for duty in the Army, his unit was not on the deployment list.

It was 2009, the same year President Barack Obama ordered 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and in no time Anthony Sandoval was headed to the war.

He grew up around the military and had an Uncle who served in the Army, so he knew what branch he wanted to join.

He said he knew the military would take care of his family.

Sandoval said the most important part of being a soldier was looking out for your comrades.

“We’d dig it up out of the ground, blow it up on the side of the road and keep moving,” Army Veteran Anthony Sandoval said.

Sandoval was deployed with the 101st Airborne.

“The road is only clear, as long as you can physically see it,” Sandoval said.

Combat engineers were tasked with clearing the way.

“If they wanted to get anywhere overseas, you have to have an engineer company, in front of them,” Sandoval said.

He said they relied heavily on technology.

“So that is why we put the ground-penetrating radar in front,” Sandoval said.

He said they were looking for improvised explosive devices.

“We clear minefields,” Sandoval said.

He drove a Husky.

“My vehicle was designed to get blown up,” Sandoval said.

It was only made for one man.

“If anybody was going to get blown up, I wanted it to be me,” Sandoval said. “Whenever someone behind me got blown up, that means I messed up on my job.”

He vividly remembers the first time he was blown up.

“I just remember looking out my window, and I was next to a big hole in the ground and I was like, oh, I just got blown up,” Sandoval said.

He was blown up three times.

“Ears ringing, concussion, and a headache, you know,” Sandoval said.

He said the pain was worth it, to know he saved so many soldiers.

“I found about 30 of them, and three found me,” Sandoval said.

He said his entire company made it home alive, but he said some continue to fight battles.

“I have some friends, I know, who are struggling,” Sandoval said.

He said he is doing better now.

Years after he returned from Afghanistan, he’s finally moving through the process to get some help through the Veterans Affairs.

“There are soldiers out there who need it more than me, or I came back with all my limbs, so it’s not really a service I wanted to take advantage of,” Sandoval said.

He said he feels like he already got so much for his service.

“I love the things the military taught me, it taught me a lot of good life lessons,” Sandoval said.

He said sometimes the enemy wouldn’t activate the explosives until they saw U.S. troops coming.

Sandoval said they could be driving over explosives for months, and then all it takes to set them off is for them to attach a battery.

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