/ THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – Jesse Petrilla, a lieutenant in the California Army National Guard, has returned from his deployment to Afghanistan.
The 29-year-old city councilman, who arrived in Afghanistan May 1, served as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. He returned to Rancho on Saturday.
In an interview with the Register, Petrilla talked about his service and his return.
Q. What was the last month like in Afghanistan, what were some of your duties?
A. For the past several months, I had the unique experience of interacting with high level Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners while assisting the Afghan authorities in their investigations as we transferred detainees to the Afghan government for prosecution. My duties as a liaison officer between the U.S. and members of the government of Afghanistan included building relationships and facilitating their prosecutorial needs. It was truly a unique glimpse into a vastly different culture.
Q. Did you expect to come home so soon?
A. As we prepare to end this chapter in our history, and as the Afghans took over more and more aspects which had previously fallen under the responsibility of our Task Force, it was no surprise to witness significant troop reductions. But while many may have had their tours come to an end, there are still a great number of our men and women over there who must remain in our thoughts and prayers until everyone comes home.
Q. What was the first thing you did when you got home?
A. Including the In-N-Out burger lunch that I had been craving for so long, I spent quality time with my family.
Q. What are you most looking forward to do now that you’ll be back (physically) on the council?
A. I look forward to getting back to work, and am glad to work with such a solid council who has kept this city running well.
Q. What would you most want people to know about your deployment?
A. It is something I am truly proud of. Our armed forces and intelligence community have accomplished great things in the past decade in order to keep the fighting away from our shores, and I am humbled to have worked with such great men and women.
Q. As far as your military duties, what’s next?
A. I look forward to training and preparing young men in my unit for whatever may come our way. While I hope to put my overseas time behind me, it was an incredible experience that I would not trade for anything in the world, and if Uncle Sam calls again, like all soldiers, I am ready to go.