NATICK, Mass. -- While preparing to deploy in 2005 as an Army Reservist in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Dave Sanborn injured a knee, required surgery, and never got beyond Camp Atterbury, Ind.

Sure, he already had answered the call once as a private first class fresh out of high school who went into Grenada in 1983 on the first day of the invasion with the 82nd Airborne. He earned his Combat Infantryman Badge there, but he hadn't gotten a chance to deploy in the post-9/11 era.

"As a professional Soldier -- whether you're part time, regardless -- you want to do your part," said Sanborn, the chief of Master Planning in the Directorate of Public Works at Natick Soldier Systems Center.

Sanborn will finally get his chance next month, when he takes over as the garrison command sergeant major at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

"This just seemed like a really good opportunity and a good fit. I was just thankful that I was picked up for it," Sanborn said. "It's kind of allowing me to take care of some unfinished business, if you would."

It will be a 400-day tour for the mobilized Reservist, who relishes the challenge.

"I'm looking forward to being at the garrison command team level, where I'll have direct say or input into the priorities," Sanborn said. "It's a purple base. You have Army, Air Force, Marines, Special Operations. So that will be exciting, the fact that it'll be a joint base.

"It's a brigade position. Right now, I'm at the battalion level. After I come back here stateside again, I'll be eligible for division billets."

Sanborn, a Portland, Maine, native who has 30 years of active-duty and Reserve experience, has held every leadership position in the enlisted ranks. He has been a paratrooper, drill sergeant and ROTC instructor. His military and civilian backgrounds made him an ideal selection for his new assignment, for which he has already gotten plenty of advice.

"There (are) a lot of people here at (Natick) that have been to Bagram already, and they've given me insight," Sanborn said. "There are some good things about going over there, (including) the fact that it's a modern base.

"I know right now that there are people over there that I will know. I just found out that a good friend of mine from high school … is going to be over there for a year as a contractor."

Sanborn said he has the support of his family, which includes his wife and their three children. The Sanborns celebrated their 16th anniversary Aug. 10.

"I'm not going to leave until (the children) start school, so I can go meet the teachers and be there for the first week," Sanborn said. "Actually, it works out pretty well, because they'll get into their routine, and then dad will be gone for a while."

According to Sanborn, who took over as its chief of Master Planning in April 2010 after arriving from Fort Monroe, Va., NSSC has prepared him for his responsibilities at Bagram.

"One thing about being here at Natick, it's a small installation, but it's an extremely vibrant installation," Sanborn said. "There's just so much going on here."