National Guardsman Prepare for Active Duty - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/05/05

National Guardsman Prepare for Active Duty

The call to service extends across south Georgia as National Guard soldiers report for duty. From Statesboro and a dozen other communities, units of the 48th Brigade will train at Fort Stewart before they deploy to the Middle East.

It is an adjustment from two weeks of the summer to a year-long mission, but they're doing the best they can.

Inside the Statesboro Armory, Susan Babot works at her husband's desk. He and their son are already at Fort Stewart as their unit heads there for active duty. Soldiers and their families must quickly adjust to Army life.

"We have four children," Susan told us. "Our youngest is ten and she still likes Daddy to say prayers with her, so it's difficult with Daddy not there."

Spec. Patrick Cheshire understands. A husband and father of four, he's also excited he could be part of the engineering teams that will help rebuild Iraq. "Knowing that you're going to leave something that will last for years and years that people will use...once again, it's hard to explain," he said. "There's a certain pride there."

From units around south Georgia, the 48th Guard Brigade will train at Fort Stewart, then California, then deploy to the Middle East.

When these soldiers get to the Middle East, they'll have no National Guard on their uniforms. They'll fall in line with their active-duty counterparts.

"You're active duty now," said Spec. David Pierce. "There's no special treatment. No pats on the back."

Beside care bags for soldiers, Red Cross volunteers hope to help families with day-to-day problems to keep pressure off soldiers in the line of duty. It's an gesture Susan Babot says will come in handy over a year's separation.

By the end of the week, more than 4,000 members of the 48th Brigade will be at Fort Stewart for training. Commanders expect they'll deploy to the Middle East sometime in May for at least six months duty.

In Statesboro, the Red Cross volunteers hope to troubleshoot for the families so soldiers don't have to hear about problems when they're away from home.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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