Over the last six months, thousands of troops from the Coastal Empire and Low Country have been deployed to the Middle East. Now 18 civilians with the Army Corps of Engineers are being sent to aid in the war with Iraq. On Sunday, they began their trip from downtown Savannah.
"They will be issued chemical equipment, they will not be issued a weapon, but will have all of the equipment," explains U.S. Army Col. Roger Gerber, "then the initial mission will be humanitarian missions, ice, water, restore power and then beginning the reconstruction of the infrastructure."
These civilians were not chosen for this mission, they volunteered for many of the same reasons our soldiers did.
"I guess 9-11 was what did it for me," says David Schmidt, with the Army Corps of Engineers Operations, "I'm not in the military, I can't pick up a weapon and go fight somebody, so this is my way of helping my country out. Without hesitation, I would say that's the attitude of everybody on the team."
Col. Gerber agrees. "It's not what they signed up to do when they came to work for the Corps of Engineers, but all of them felt that they can make a contribution in this great effort."
"It's just something we want to do," Schmidt adds.
Like many soldiers, these civilians have many of the same concerns about leaving their families behind. They don't know when they're coming home; however, they're ready to go forward.
"I feel we will be well protected and everything will be fine for us," says civil engineer Rob Callahan.