Miami Council member Mancha attends first meeting


Staff Reporter

MIAMI — Councilman Ruben Mancha attended his first Miami Town Council meeting last week.

It’s not that the newly elected councilman was negligent. It’s just that the commute would have been really difficult – Mancha has been away serving in the military since his election last November.

The Miami High School graduate, who just recently earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Grand Canyon University, has followed a pathway that has been anything but ordinary.

Rather than being sworn in during a routine council meeting, he chose to take his oath of office at the bedside of his mother, Patricia Mancha. His father, Gila County Constable Ruben Mancha Sr., administered the oath of office.

A short time after, he said good bye to his wife, Sara, and sons, Ruben III, now 18, Dylan, 13, and Xavier 11 and headed off to Kuwait.

Serving in the military had been a goal for a long time for Mancha, but it wasn’t easy to leave home and family especially with his mother so ill. He talked it over with his family and they considered that if he waited until the next round, he would be overseas for his son’s graduation from Miami High School. His mother gave her blessing.

Twelve days later, he came home on bereavement leave. His proud mother had seen her children succeed in so many things and then it was time for her to go.

Although he was initially trained to be a power generator mechanic, the National Guard subsequently trained him to work in human resources a couple of years ago.    

In Kuwait, Ruben was charged with processing the soldiers, civilians and contractors who were slated to return to the United States. As he helped them to put their paper work in order and book their travel. He said he met a lot of good people.  “Most of them were really tired but excited to go,” he said.

Failure was not an option in his job. If something was missing, Ruben and the people he supervised would go to work to find it. “We’d fix it and get them to the right place and to where they needed to go,” he said.

Then there were the mobile missions to a large camp outside of  where he was initially stationed. “They were in Kuwait in the middle of no-where,” he said.

Eventually he was transferred to Iraq where his unit was called to support the First Armored Division of the First Infantry. There wasn’t much to see there because it was a pretty small base. Occasionally he would provide security to the Lieutenant  Colonel when he went out on his leader briefs.

There were some opportunities to spend free time in the malls in Kuwait City, though. “We would go to the malls and shop,” he said. “Aside from a different culture, they live life just like the rest of us.”  Some of his fellow shoppers would be clothed in their “daras”; long sleeved floor length dresses. Many of the men wore long white “dashas.” Others were dressed in more Western style clothing.

Ruben bought a few things to send home like clothing and some money with Saddam Hussein’s picture on it. “I just put it all in a box and sent it home, “ he said. He has not opened the box since he has been home and can’t even remember all of its contents.

Ruben described most of the Kuwaitis that he interacted with as “pretty family oriented.” He said they enjoyed serving the soldiers coffee and chai tea with a lot of sugar. “Their coffee was pretty strong,” he said. The locals also enjoyed having their pictures taken with the soldiers.   

There were also a lot of “hookahs.” “Soldiers loved to smoke the hookahs,” he said

Ruben said, although the soldiers were given some training on the culture and things they should or should not do, he didn’t have a lot of pre-conceived notions about the Iraqi people before he was stationed there.

He said he grew up respecting everyone. “I never really had a mind set about them…I’ve been raised to accept all cultures and not judge others.” he said. “We can’t force them to change what they’ve practiced their whole lives. I didn’t come across anything unethical or inappropriate.”

“I’ve known not every Iraqi is our enemy,” he said. At the same time he was aware that he is an American soldier trained to support America. “We’re trained to go and do our job and take our orders from our commanders,” he said. 

Eating out was a whole new experience. “I just don’t remember what I tried,” he said. “Some was different. Some I would never try again but it was better than I expected it to be.”

When he was making plans to come back to the United States, Mancha said he looked forward the most to seeing his family. He was able to video-chat with them a few times while he was deployed.

I’m glad to be back,” Mancha said. Homecoming was a family affair. They only person in his family who knew when he was coming was his wife, Sara, who picked him up at the airport. There was an 18th birthday party for Ruben III scheduled for that evening at Guile’s On the Trail. Ruben II walked into the restaurant and surprised his sons, siblings, cousins and father.

When asked if he would do it all again after having served his first deployment, Mancha said, “Oh yeah. I wouldn’t mind going someplace different than Kuwait. It was so hot. The water tanks were outside. Up north the showers were in port-a-Johns. You felt like you were in a sauna. In the winter, we took lots of cold showers.”

Although the bases try to provide things for the soldiers to do to pass the time, nothing brings as much joy as a package from home.  Some schools or other groups get the children together to send letters. “The soldiers enjoy reading them,” he said. “They are good morale boosters.”

Mancha took time to volunteer with the Red Cross a couple of times. He said hygiene items were really popular especially for soldiers stationed in less developed areas.

“There are a lot of church organizations and veteran’s organizations and families who send care packages. Those were always nice and appreciated,” he said.

Mancha said he was grateful to be from a small town because he feels small towns offer the most support. “There is a lot of unity in a small town,” he said.

Although he was initially trained to be a power generator mechanic, the National Guard subsequently trained him to work in human resources a couple of years ago.    

In Kuwait, Ruben was charged with processing the soldiers, civilians and contractors who were slated to return to the United States. As he helped them to put their paper work in order and book their travel. He said he met a lot of good people.  “Most of them were really tired but excited to go,” he said.

Failure was not an option in his job. If something was missing, Ruben and the people he supervised would go to work to find it. “We’d fix it and get them to the right place and to where they needed to go,” he said.

Then there were the mobile missions to a large camp outside of  where he was initially stationed. “They were in Kuwait in the middle of no-where,” he said.

Eventually he was transferred to Iraq where his unit was called to support the First Armored Division of the First Infantry. There wasn’t much to see there because it was a pretty small base. Occasionally he would provide security to the Lieutenant  Colonel when he went out on his leader briefs.

There were some opportunities to spend free time in the malls in Kuwait City, though. “We would go to the malls and shop,” he said. “Aside from a different culture, they live life just like the rest of us.”  Some of his fellow shoppers would be clothed in their “daras”; long sleeved floor length dresses. Many of the men wore long white “dashas.” Others were dressed in more Western style clothing.

Ruben bought a few things to send home like clothing and some money with Saddam Hussein’s picture on it. “I just put it all in a box and sent it home, “ he said. He has not opened the box since he has been home and can’t even remember all of its contents.

Ruben described most of the Kuwaitis that he interacted with as “pretty family oriented.” He said they enjoyed serving the soldiers coffee and chai tea with a lot of sugar. “Their coffee was pretty strong,” he said. The locals also enjoyed having their pictures taken with the soldiers.   

There were also a lot of “hookahs.” “Soldiers loved to smoke the hookahs,” he said

Ruben said, although the soldiers were given some training on the culture and things they should or should not do, he didn’t have a lot of pre-conceived notions about the Iraqi people before he was stationed there.

He said he grew up respecting everyone. “I never really had a mind set about them, I’ve been raised to accept all cultures and not judge others.” he said. “We can’t force them to change what they’ve practiced their whole lives. I didn’t come across anything unethical or inappropriate.”

“I’ve known not every Iraqi is our enemy,” he said. At the same time he was aware that he is an American soldier trained to support America. “We’re trained to go and do our job and take our orders from our commanders,” he said. 

Eating out was a whole new experience. “I just don’t remember what I tried,” he said. “Some was different. Some I would never try again but it was better than I expected it to be.”

When he was making plans to come back to the United States, Mancha said he looked forward the most to seeing his family. He was able to video-chat with them a few times while he was deployed.

I’m glad to be back,” Mancha said. Homecoming was a family affair. They only person in his family who knew when he was coming was his wife, Sara, who picked him up at the airport. There was an 18th birthday party for Ruben III scheduled for that evening at Guile’s On the Trail. Ruben II walked into the restaurant and surprised his sons, siblings, cousins and father.

When asked if he would do it all again after having served his first deployment, Mancha said, “Oh yeah. I wouldn’t mind going someplace different than Kuwait. It was so hot. The water tanks were outside. Up north the showers were in port-a-Johns. You felt like you were in a sauna. In the winter, we took lots of cold showers.”

Although the bases try to provide things for the soldiers to do to pass the time, nothing brings as much joy as a package from home.  Some schools or other groups get the children together to send letters. “The soldiers enjoy reading them,” he said. “They are good morale boosters.”

Mancha took time to volunteer with the Red Cross a couple of times. He said hygiene items were really popular especially for soldiers stationed in less developed areas.

“There are a lot of church organizations and veteran’s organizations and families who send care packages. Those were always nice and appreciated,” he said.

Mancha said he was grateful to be from a small town because he feels small towns offer the most support. “There is a lot of unity in a small town,” he said.


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