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Mission for his country

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Rafael Conde of River Falls is serving a one-year stint in Afghanistan with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Conde, a former Chartwells director of dining services at UW-River Falls, is on his second overseas deployment. His first was in Iraq. Conde is a command sergeant major with the Regional Police. His job involves mentoring Afghan police forces in the Herat Province.

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Above, Conde returns after a security team briefing under the watchful eye of three Afghans who are police officers assigned to Regional Headquarters for security. Says Conde: "Every time we roll up in our large armored trucks, they gather around us to see what we have...It is like kids in grade school when the big fire truck comes to their school."

Conde's wife, Jennifer, also worked for Chartwells at UW-RF but now is employed at Nutrition Care for Hudson Hospital & Clinics. The Condes have five children -- Lindsey, 27, Blake, 24, Erica, 18, Katrina, 15, and Michael, 11. Erica just graduated from River Falls High School and is following in her father's footsteps by joining the Army National Guard and undergoing basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.

The Conde family is also active at St. Bridget Catholic Church.

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