SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The Scotch Plains-Fanwood police department officially welcomed back Officer Richard Sopko from his more than one year-long military deployment in Jordan during the Tuesday, Jan. 21, Scotch Plains Township Council meeting.
A native of Clark, NJ, Sopko is a combat medic in the Army National Guard based out of the Westfield Armory. Sopko, as part of Operation Spartan Shield, led the 7-week medical training session for Jordanian combat medics during his deployment. This training led to the certification of over 100 Jordanian medics. He also was the lead medic on numerous emergency calls involving U.S. and partner nation forces while stationed in Jordan.
During a critical manpower shortage, Sopko served as the sole medic for clinical coverages of Operation Inherent Resolve. Additionally, he earned the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, a four-day test of a soldier’s physical and shooting capabilities. For his actions, Officer Sopko was awarded the Army Commendation Medal.
During the Council meeting, Officer Sopko presented Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley with a flag that was flown from a U.S. F-15 fighter jet on Oct. 29, 2019, in the department's honor.
"I just want to say thank you for the love and support. This area of New Jersey is great and supportive of the military," Sopko said. "I received care packages from Scotch Plains, Westfield, and New Providence. Everyone has a busy schedule, and to take time to send me candy and chips and things to remind me what I am missing back home is greatly appreciated."