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    ‘I’ve never seen the ocean’ Spc. Bunderson travels overseas, participates in African Lion ‘22

    ‘I’ve never seen the ocean’ Spc. Bunderson travels overseas, participates in African Lion ‘22

    Photo By Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur | Idaho Army National Guard Soldier Spc. Justin Bunderson has never seen the ocean,...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur 

    Idaho Army National Guard

    Idaho Army National Guard Soldier Spc. Justin Bunderson has never seen the ocean, until now. Bunderson, born and raised in Idaho, jumped at the chance to travel overseas in June to Morocco and participate in Exercise African Lion ‘22.

    “I have never left the country before and I am very grateful for this opportunity,” said Bunderson. “The ocean is something I have always wanted to see and experience.”

    Bunderson is a cannon crewmember for the 1st Battalion of the 148th Field Artillery Regiment who usually spends his military days loading ammunition rounds into the M109A6 howitzer in the small town of Preston. After volunteering for the training in Morocco, he spent his workdays loading ammunition in the northern Sahara Desert training area near the ocean during the two-week exercise.

    African Lion is a multinational, combined joint exercise conducted in Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia. Almost 4,000 U.S. service members and more than 4,000 troops from Brazil, Canada, Ghana, Morocco, Netherlands, Senegal, Tunisia and the United Kingdom participated in U.S. AFRICOM’s largest annual exercise.

    Bunderson is a part-time citizen-Soldier who installs natural gas pipelines at Whitaker Construction when he is not loading ammunition for the Idaho Army National Guard. He joined the Idaho Army National Guard in September of 2018.

    He said he always wanted to join the military and made the final decision with a local recruiter a couple years after graduating high school.

    “I always knew the military would be a good thing for my future, with its education and retirement benefits. The travel part was something I never expected,” said Bunderson. “I never thought I would be going to half the places I have already gone. I have known others who have joined before me, and that inspired me to join. I needed something more than what my hometown life was offering me and this was it.”

    Since joining the military, Bunderson participated in his first National Training Center rotation in 2019 at Fort Irwin, California. In 2020, Bunderson traveled to Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center in Wyoming and in January of 2021, he volunteered in Washington, D.C., for the 59th Presidential Inauguration.

    Now he has taken his training outside of the United States and for the first time he was able to see, hear and feel the ocean right at his footsteps.

    “I’m glad this was the first place I was able to see the ocean, where it’s not at a crowded public or tourist beach and it was a short walk from the training area. It was quiet and peaceful at the beach so I could take it all in. It’s soothing and the sand feels so nice under my feet,” he said.

    Bunderson’s future has him staying in Preston where he wants to continue to promote within his unit and learn as much as there is to learn about the howitzer.

    “My experience in the military has been really good so far,” said Bunderson. “I enjoy my unit and I have really great leadership. I’m happy here. It was a good decision to join this unit and be able to stay here in Preston. I want to continue to volunteer for missions like this one.”

    In addition to participating in the African Lion exercise, Bunderson volunteered for the extended mission of shipping the Idaho Army National Guard’s equipment back to the United States after the exercise ended.

    Idaho’s battalion shipped multiple M109A6 howitzers, HMMWVs, a palletized loading system and a maintenance field repair system across the sea for the exercise. An advance team from the battalion arrived at a port in Morocco beforehand to receive and unload the equipment, and after the exercise ended, a team remained on the ground to help load equipment onto the ship to the U.S.

    Bunderson said volunteering to remain as part of the trail party provided an additional opportunity to see more of Morocco, experience more of the culture and to see more of the ocean.



    Date Taken: 07.08.2022
    Date Posted: 07.08.2022 03:07
    Story ID: 424568
    Location: TAN-TAN, MA
    Hometown: PRESTON, ID, US

    Web Views: 66
    Downloads: 0