Sailor honored for service

 - KIRK BOXLEITNER The Arlington Times
— image credit: KIRK BOXLEITNER The Arlington Times

EVERETT Petty Officer 3rd Class Jimmy Castro is one of many sailors who lives at the Naval Station Everett site in Marysville, but he was singled out at the "State of the Station" luncheon in Everett, April 18, for his exceptional service.

From Feb. 6, 2007 to Jan. 6, 2008, Castro was an Individual Augmentee serving at Camp Bucca in Iraq, and he was one of four IAs are from Naval Station Everett to be honored at the luncheon.

An IA is a U.S. military member assigned to to fill in for, or augment, members of other units. IAs assigned individually, rather than as part of a larger group, such as a brigade, battalion or company, and have been used to fill shortages or meet requirements for individuals with specialized knowledge or skill sets. As a result, IAs can be assigned to work with branches of service other than their own, and many have been used in Iraq.

Castro, a California native, joined the Navy as an Engineman seven years ago, and came to Naval Station Everett with his family three years ago. The Los Angeles native was assigned to detainee operations in Iraq, which included stints as an assistant quad leader, a tower guard, entry control point guard and a roving security guard.

"He maintained accurate and positive control of 260 Al Qaeda detainees and ensured that all were treated with dignity and respect," said Katherine Staberow, member of the Everett Chamber of Commerce Navy Affairs Committee.

In addition to providing the detainees' basic needs, Castro assisted in collecting military intelligence and conducted roving patrols, often under mortar fire, to ensure that such attacks didn't compromise the integrity of the camp's chain-link fence.

Castro conducted these duties 14 hours a day, six days a week, with only four other guards, during which he got to know the detainees on a more personal level.

At the same time, Castro had the chance to enter a boxing tournament, with no experience, and wound up the only sailor to beat his Army and Air Force opponents. He also enjoyed seeing those soldiers and airmen's faces when Navy beat Army 38-3 in football.

Castro's wife, Alejandra, admitted that she "did not miss Jimmy's sweat gear all over the house" while he was an IA, but she still missed him, especially during the holidays. Alejandra struggled to balance her job as a retail clerk with caring for her four young children, and her younger brother, while her husband was away.

"She repeated over and over to herself, every time she watched the news, heard the death toll or saw "U.S. Navy" on the caller ID, that it was just another deployment, and that Jimmy would be back," Staberow said. "She encouraged others to do the same."

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