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Published: Saturday, March 2, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Mazza returns from deployment

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph Mazza has returned to the U.S. after being deployed overseas at a forward operating base to serve in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Operation Enduring Freedom is the official name given to anti-terrorism military operations involving U.S. troops and allied coalition partners. Active duty and reserve component members from all branches of the U.S. armed forces have been deployed to support the war against global terrorism outside the borders of the United States. U.S. troops serve in South, Southwest and Central Asia, the Arabian peninsula, the Horn of Africa, islands in the Pacific, and Europe.

Mazza is a senior electronics system maintenance technician assigned to the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. He has served in the military for 19 years.

He is the son of Diane Orn of Wyoming, Pa. His wife, Tanya, is the daughter of George and Christine Gould of Shabbona.

Larkins awarded Bronze Star

Major Rob Larkins of Sycamore was awarded a Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During that period, Larkins served with a joint Special Operations Task Force. As a Special Operations physical therapist, Larkins provided medical care for the soldiers in his task force and served with operational A-teams on bases throughout northeastern Afghanistan.

In addition to caring for U.S. soldiers, Larkins helped plan and execute village medical outreach missions in remote areas of Afghanistan. He conceived and executed a wheelchair campaign that provided more than 300 wheelchairs to improve the lives of civilians with disabilities.

During one medical outreach mission in the Wardak Province, Larkins was part of a small team that served more than 1,900 people, including 425 children, over three days. Despite heavy insurgent efforts to disrupt the mission by launching 107mm rockets into the area, the Special Operations medical team continued helping the villagers, many of whom had walked for miles to be seen for the first time by a medical professional.

Larkins works full-time as a physical therapist at Northern Rehab Physical Therapy Specialists in DeKalb.

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