Staff Sgt. Jay Baldwin, who has spent most of his 27 years in the military on active duty in Kodiak, is retiring and handing over his job to Staff Sgt. Orlando Morera.
No big ceremony is planned. “I’m going to come out the same way I came in: quiet, dazed and confused,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said his last few days have been spent wrapping up loose ends for Morera, who has worked as the second full-time soldier in Kodiak for the past 13 months.
After Aug. 1, Baldwin said he plans to take a year sabbatical, go back to school and commit time to his other activities, including serving on the governor’s committee for veterans affairs, being vice president of Sun’ami (formerly Kodiak Tribal Council) and working as a member of the Leisnoi Inc. board of directors.
Morera is no newcomer to Kodiak. Before becoming a full-time soldier in June 2011, he worked for 12 years at Westward Seafoods while serving in the National Guard. “They were actually really helpful in letting me go every time I had some training,” he said.
Morera joined the National Guard out of high school and underwent basic training in 1998 and 1999. In 2004, he was among the Kodiak soldiers deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom III. “Right after that, six months later, I did another deployment for Kuwait,” he said.
Other National Guard trips took him to Mongolia, Germany and Japan. “It was fun while it lasted,” he said Monday.
As the man in charge of the armory and organizing training for Kodiak’s National Guard soldiers, Morera will now be the last soldier to deploy from Kodiak.
That doesn’t mean the end of his travel, however. For the past few months, Morera has been undergoing extensive Army training before taking over for Baldwin. “I just got back Friday and I’m leaving again on the fourth for another course in Arkansas,” he said. “It’s been a travel summer, not trouble, but travel.”
When Morera takes over, he will begin looking for a new No. 2 at the armory. “I’m trying to look for him right now,” he said, but added, “I don’t see it happening in the near future.”
Until then, Morera is working on attracting new recruits, both through an open house Sept. 22 and through normal outreach. When someone is ready to join, he’ll be at the armory waiting.