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Lodi man helps win Army National Guard contest

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Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2009 10:00 pm

A Lodi Army National Guard member who grew up in Lodi is part of a seven-man artillery team named the "Top Gun of the Battalion" in a competition against a Southern California team.

Private 1st Class Joseph De Anda Sr., 46, received three Army coins for his efforts as his squad, known as Alpha, beat a Southern California National Guard team more than a week ago at Camp Roberts, near Paso Robles. De Anda's team scored 697 points out of a possible 700 more than a week ago to be named Top Gun.

A very excited De Anda, visiting his grandmother in Galt on Sunday, excitedly talked about three special coins he earned, one a "Freedom Defenders for Excellence" coin and two for "excellence in performance."

As a National Guardsman, De Anda serves one weekend a month on guard duty and two weeks of training during the year. It was during the two-week training period this month that he competed against the rival team.

De Anda's duty was to be "powder monkey," where he handed his teammates fuses and gunpowder for a gun he described as an M-119 that hadn't been fired in California in more than 50 years. His teammates in last week's competition came from Stockton, Sacramento and Walnut Creek, as well as Lodi.

De Anda's group, trained to use Howitzers in Iraq, had to learn how to use the M-119, a new weapon for them. Despite the group's inexperience with the gun, De Anda's squad was named "Top Gun" because they used the new weapon more quickly and safely than the their opponents.

"We were really the underdogs," De Anda said.

Joseph De Anda Sr., a member of the California National Guard artillery unit from Lodi, displays a green "enlisted excellence ribbon," two red battle coins for excellence in performance and a round, blue "Freedom Defenders for Excellence" coin. (Ross Farrow/News-Sentinel)

The unit was led by Sgts. 1st Class Chris Somera and Thomas Lane, of Lodi, and Staff Sgt. Ernesto Buena Vista, of Stockton.

De Anda's unit was deployed in Iraq for nine months, returning home on April 23, 2008. And he's waiting for word that he's headed for Afghanistan, where he expects to serve a year.

De Anda was born in San Francisco. He moved to Galt when he was 12 and to Lodi at age 13. He attended Woodbridge Middle School and graduated from Lodi High School in 1981. He enlisted in the U.S. Army two years later, and was in and out of the Army five times before deciding to make it a career.

De Anda said he's glad he joined the Army. He re-enlisted for six more years in 2008 and will be due for retirement in 2014.

Meanwhile, De Anda spent Father's Day visiting his wife, Tami, and three children, knowing it will be a long time before they see him again.

"I was getting $1,002 every Friday (while stationed in Iraq)," De Anda said. "You can't get that working in Lodi."

As for why he opted for a trip to Afghanistan, De Anda pointed to the American flag on his shoulder and said, "That keeps me going."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 6:03 am on Mon, Jun 29, 2009.


    Thatgirl-Sorry bout the Army crack, reread your post and you're Navy. My apologies.Go Navy! But still stop the whinning ok?

  • posted at 5:54 am on Mon, Jun 29, 2009.


    ThatGirl-You amaze me as well. What makes you think I wasn't in the military? What makes you think I don't have a son on the "Big E"? You are making assumptions, right.Two things here - 1 - An E2 powdermonkey thats makes a take home pay of 52K a year is overpaid. Period end of story. It's a grunt position and has no transferrable skills to the private sector. 2 - It's VOLUNTEER. If you don't like what you're getting paid... get out! No one forced you to sign up. If you signed up for the money you signed up for the wrong reason.Finally, stop your incesent whinning. Figures you're Army. Any hints as to what Branch I served? That's the point isn't it? You don't know.

  • posted at 3:36 am on Mon, Jun 29, 2009.


    Galt guy- You amaze me. I just read the rest of the feed and you are ridiculous! I am stationed in FL and I barely make enough to survive right now so you really need to get your facts straight and think before you speak! I was making alot more money in San Diego but, my rent was twice the amount it is here or in Lodi and, I was barely making it! You also have to take in the "well-being" factor... If you were overseas in the middle of fire wouldn't you hope to atleast be able to know you are providing for your family and that you could go home and maybe take a break? If you don't do our job you don't understand and you never will until it is your son or daughter over there! Wouldn't you feel good know that they can afford a plane ticket home to see you after being in Iraq for a year? Lets be serious! Personally I feel like you are ignorant and would greatly appreciate it if you stopped posting comments that are degrading to military members...

  • posted at 3:08 am on Mon, Jun 29, 2009.


    Well, thank you for the math lesson but, you have to remember that all pay while deployed to the middle east is not taxed! So you do the math now! I am in the military and I do Military pay as my job... So, I kinda know what I am talking about probably more so than any on here about his pay! I am an E4 under 3 years and when I was stationed in San Diego with no special duty pay I was making an average of 3500 a month so it is possible! Don't get me wrong I am not trying to defend this guy I am just putting the truth out there!

  • posted at 5:21 pm on Thu, Jun 25, 2009.


    did you write up that response on a drum head, like Tom Paine?

  • posted at 12:36 am on Wed, Jun 24, 2009.


    Dogbark-Like I said I stand corrected concerning how much an E3 pay is. However, while I understand it is dangerous duty, it's also a volunteer commitment. No one is making anyone go anywhere they don't want to go. So you're suggestion I go sign is without merit. Scottie- Same answer to you. It's volunteer service. If they can't handle the financial comittment as well as the physical and mental comittments they should find something else to do. Thats why they call it VOLUNTEER.

  • posted at 6:35 pm on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    By the way, the first fatality in the attack on Fort Sumpter, which began the Civil War, was the powder monkey, it is dangerous duty. Then and now.

  • posted at 6:24 pm on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    Bottom Line: the unit performed extremely well in a military situation.That is important, especially since the last administration had a penchant for sending National Guard units into harms way, since they were running out of fresh troops in that sand lot over there.Also I'd always heard our unit was a backup for action in Korea, and guess what is heating up again folks.If you think the Army is overpaid, pull a Schwartznegger; you go enlist, and do that job, but don't take the pay.

  • posted at 12:01 pm on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    I just looked at the other article containing info on DeAnda's arrest. According to the article, when he got back form Iraq he was a Specialist (E-4), it appears that he was disciplined by the military for the money charges, thus his drop in rank. With that rank and 16 years in service (which I believe he has), his pay would be $2219 a month, plus the housing allowance, and other hazardous types of pay I can see him coming in right at 4K. http://www.lodinews.com/articles/2009/02/13/news/1_counterfeiting_090213.prthttp://www.navycs.com/09militarypaychart.html (Pay chart)

  • posted at 11:55 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    The average GI in the states gets a lot less than a deployed one. They may get 1100 a month for housing, but that barely pays the rent. If they're a single breadwinner family, the remaining salary for an enlisted member (starting at 1400) isn't much to get by on. Even if they're deployed, they still need to maintain a house or apartment at home (unless they're single and put everything in storage for the year). 4k a month was nice for me when I was single and deployed, but right now if I was making that the taxes would take away a good chunk of that and then you still have mortage, food, electricity, gas and kids to pay for. Also you have to remember that a lot of reservist and guard members are older and are more likely to have a decent paying job at home that they're not getting paid for when they're deployed, and they still have to support their family back at home.

  • posted at 11:10 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    OK that's all well and good then. IF that's true then I stand corrected.BUT... also if that's true you military guys have been sandbagging the American Public! What happened to the whole argument about GI's being on Food Stamps, etc...? At 50K a year you don't qualify for food stamps! Once again the American Public is getting the wool pulled over their eyes. First by teachers now by our GI's. Want proof? I quote PFC De Anda, "You can't get that working in Lodi" How right he is!

  • posted at 10:51 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    When I was in the AF Reserves on Active Duty from 01-03, I was making about 4k a month as an E-4 when I was deployed. Because he was in Iraq his pay is tax free. He also would be getting hazardous duty pay and possibly other incentive pay. I can see bringing home 1k a month quite easily. As far as being an E-3, he may have been demoted after an Article 15, after he was supposedly arrested. When you consider that he was in Iraq before his arrest, he was a higher rank, which means higher BAH (Basic Allowance For Housing), for an E-5 BAH would be around $1100 for Lodi, and his base pay would be around $2700 a month. Add on $225 a month for hazardous duty pay and you'll get around $4000 a month. If he was an E-3 this would only go down to a base salary of around $1800 a month plus BAH and hostile fire/harzard pay. Eitherway I don't find the money he claims to have made there odd, I'm just curious to see what happens with the court case.

  • posted at 10:19 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    hometowndad, he's not yet convicted of any crimes.

  • posted at 9:24 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    Thatgirl-Without being a smart***, don't they teach Math in Basic? According to your figures at MOST the GROSS pay would be is around $3750 a month. This is at MOST in GROSS $. Net on $3750 a month is around $2500 - $2800 a month. Which is $600 - $700 a week, far from $1002. Unless you were saying he would be getting the $1200 INSTEAD of the $750 as oppossed to in addition to the $750. Then my point is even more so, then it would be around $400 - $600 a week. Either way, he's not getting $1002 a week TAKE HOME. But like none of us can understand is how he's an E3 after 20+ years!

  • posted at 7:45 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    U are right on track Fishboy!!And I agree with Galtguy-where is the back check and research with this reporter?! The readers of LNS need some explanations on why this convicted person is highlighted in this story?!

  • posted at 7:34 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    So, I am also having problems with this! Just to let you know galtguy that a PFC is an E3 but, that doesn't really matter and base pay for 8+ years is $1859. Now, give or take a little the most "extra" pay he would get is about $750. Unless he was getting a Basic housing allowance and for Lodi I believe it is in the $1200 a month range. So in all reality he could make about $1000 a week overseas. My biggest problem is how he is still an E3! I out rank him and I haven't even been in for 3 years! Hmmmm. And, I am a little curious if the Army has a High Year Tenure cause in the Navy if you are an E5 at 14 years you are kicked out!

  • posted at 7:33 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    So, I am also having problems with this! Just to let you know galtguy that a PFC is an E3 but, that doesn't really matter and base pay for 8+ years is $1859. Now, give or take a little the most "extra" pay he would get is about $750. Unless he was getting a Basic housing allowance and for Lodi I believe it is in the $1200 a month range. So in all reality he could make about $1000 a week overseas. My biggest problem is how he is still an E3! I out rank him and I haven't even been in for 3 years! Hmmmm. And, I am a little curious if the Army has a High Year Tenure cause in the Navy if you are an E5 at 14 years you are kicked out!

  • posted at 12:44 am on Tue, Jun 23, 2009.


    I'm calling for an immediate explanation on the part of LNS. It's obvious you have failed miserbly in your research on this story. The counterfieting was reported in YOUR OWN PAPER, how could you have missed that?Further, does this reporter EVER check facts? To even remotely believe that a 46 Year old man could be in the Army for 26 years "off an on" (5 times no less) and still be an E2, but yet taking home 48K+ a year is totally naive. This story explains much in the way of why most people consider the media "out of touch" and completely lacking in common sense.Your Move LNS.

  • posted at 7:00 pm on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    A military career and a penchant for embezzling? This guy could be in politics!

  • posted at 5:50 pm on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    pfc Deanda you are scaring me. You might be the only one who believes your story. You said you had a great fathers day with your kids and your wife Tamie. Shes still in custdy for passing fake bills? Thats not saying much for your parenting skills. Lodi news you might want to do a back ground check next time.National guard where do i sign up for the big bucks

  • posted at 4:51 pm on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    You got it, Galtguy, something sure doesnt add up! Probably the fact that Mr. Deanda was involved in some suspicious activity?!! He is the same person who was a suspect in the money laundering.

  • posted at 6:37 am on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    hometowndad, it was Ms. Bohm who reported on 2/13/09: Five Lodi residents face federal charges in $500,000 counterfeiting ringAn Army National Guard member was among five Lodi residents arrested Thursday in connection with a counterfeit ring that passed nearly $500,000 in fake bills. The fraudulent $100 bills have been found in Iraq, where suspect Joseph DeAnda was deployed, as well as Lodi, Jackson, Mexico and several states, Lodi Police Detective Eric Bradley said. Investigators suspect much of the fake money was moved through casinos for real cash.

  • posted at 6:27 am on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    SSG Jeremy-You know as well as I do that all the hazard duty, overseas pay in the world doesn't add up to an E-2 taking home 48K+ a year! No way! Further, how do explain "in and out" of the Army 5 times? How? What about being in "off and on" for some 26 years and only being a PFC? Either something isn't being reported correctly or something's not right with this story. The BS meter is pegged!

  • posted at 4:13 am on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    Dont your reporters do their research? This is the same Joseph DeAnda Sr. who was front page news, along with his wife, a few months ago for money laundering in a huge sting by the FBI! Some of that money ended up in Iraq, another story in the Lodi News Sentinnel!! What is going on here?!

  • posted at 3:15 am on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    Galtguy: With all the entitlements that we recieve while deployed over here, our pay is a bit more than it is back in the rear. Congrats you guys, nice way to represent.

  • posted at 12:39 am on Mon, Jun 22, 2009.


    Great Job PFC De Anda!I just have to wonder, enlisted in 1983, served off and on for this whole time, but yet a PFC? And $1002 every week? I know about combat pay, etc. but am I to believe a PFC makes a take home pay of 48K+?Either something was left out of the story or there's a little something going on?



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