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LAPD sergeant returns from tour of duty

August 5, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department is back with the force after a second tour of duty overseas.Sergeant Jose Melendez is back with the LAPD Van Nuys Division after serving 16 months in Iraq.

"I just can't get enough," said Melendez.

Sergeant Melendez volunteered for his last, and most dangerous, deployment. He and his division from the California National Guard were assigned to run convoy operations throughout Iraq.

"We drove, I don't know how many thousands, thousands of miles throughout the roads ... and the most dangerous roads in Iraq," said Melendez.

On October 5, 2007, his convoy was hit by two roadside bombs.

"Thank God everybody made it out. It was a very scary day. That's something you got to deal with ... the roadside bombs and the snipers ... it's a dangerous country," said Melendez.

Melendez says he is happy to be home with the force; training, he says, that prepared him for Army life.

"I think the military and the police department go hand-in-hand," said Melendez.

Melendez says his fellow police officers, including Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, welcomed him back with open arms.

Chief Bratton presented him with a coin as a token of his accomplishments.

"It's a challenge coin. I'll keep it in my pocket for good luck," said Melendez.

When asked if Sergeant Melendez would volunteer for another tour, he said it was a more complicated question this time around. Last time he was on tour, he became a father.

"That's really why I want to stay home. He's a wonderful little boy and I see the qualities of him in me. And he's a tough little kid and I want to see him grow up," said Melendez.

Sergeant Melendez says if he was asked to do another tour he'd like to go to Afghanistan, a place he says he may be able to do the most good.


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