March 2011

IBEW On Duty
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Conn. Members Return from Iraq, Afghanistan

Members of New Haven, Conn., Local 90 recently welcomed home two of their own following deployments in the Middle East.

Journeyman wireman Brendan Toth and second-year apprentice John Coggshall returned to the Constitution State late last year after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.

For Toth, it was the finale of a distinguished military career—including active duty and the reserves—that spanned four decades and included missions such as helping train soldiers in Iraq's emerging army. Toth retired from the Army Reserves effective December of last year.

"It's been a privilege to serve," said Toth, who earned the rank of command sergeant major, received the Bronze Star—for acts of merit—and was awarded the Legion of Merit for outstanding service and achievement upon his retirement.

Toth said one of his proudest accomplishments was helping ensure added security in a still-volatile country by boosting the Iraqi armed forces.

"The improvement the Iraqi soldiers have made is commendable," Toth said. "A lot of bad guys don't like them, but they're putting themselves out there and doing something brave. We've offered them the opportunity for success and they're rising to the challenge.

"I'm happy I was able to make a contribution," he said.

While Toth traveled through Iraq on assignment to oversee trainings, Coggshall served as military security in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan providing safety to area civilians. The 26-year-old worked with the Afghan army and police force to secure polling stations during elections.

Coggshall entered the apprenticeship via Helmets to Hardhats— "A great program," he said. His father, Ray, a Local 90 retiree and Navy veteran during the Vietnam War, helped spark John's interest in the trade.

"The local has been very helpful to me during my deployment," Coggshall said. Local leaders worked to help catch him up on curriculum and have made arrangements for him to retain his seniority at signatory contractor Pierpont Electric. Coggshall said he appreciated the welcome home reception the members held for him and expressed gratitude for the local's offer to pay for his books this year—a $400 value.

With combat behind them, family time will take more priority in both members' lives.

Toth is eager to spend more time with his wife Sharon and 16-year-old son Kyle. "He's going to be off in college in a year and a half, so I want to get in all the time I can," Toth said.

For Coggshall, starting a family of his own will take center stage. He proposed to his girlfriend, Megan, first thing when he walked off the plane from Afghanistan. The wedding is tentatively set for September 2012.

Local leaders praised the service of both men.

"I'm overjoyed that our brothers were able to return from harm's way with no injuries," said Business Manager Frank Halloran. "We're all happy that John and Brendan are getting back into the trade and are enjoying the benefits of the freedoms they fought for."

New Haven, Conn., Local 90 member Brendan Toth served in Iraq.

Local 90 apprentice John Coggshall, second from right, presents a flag to local leaders after his tour in Afghanistan.