48th Brigade Close to Deployment

Brenda Beasley takes care of her soldiers.
Brenda Beasley takes care of her soldiers.

Our soldiers are constantly on the move these days. Most of the Third Infantry Division and special forces units have been deploying overseas since January. Now 900 soldiers with the 48th Brigade of the National Guard are getting ready head to Iraq as well.

They have one more stop for training in California before they head overseas. These soldiers come from all walks of life. For many, this is their first deployment, but they're being well taken care of.

Brenda Beasley takes care of her soldiers. Her job as deployment operations manger is making sure they're up to speed before they leave on their mission.

"To see them leaving, it's sad," she said. "But keep your fingers crossed, Lord willing, they'll be back, safe and well. And we'll be here to greet them."

Like a motherly figure, she gives soldiers as much encouragement as she can, especially for those young soldiers who may be saying goodbye to their loved ones for the very first time.

Like many young soldiers, Spc. Steve Grant joined the National Guard to pay for college, against his mother's wishes. "She hated it. I won't lie to you. She said I picked the dumbest military service and I was going to die."

But these baby-faced soldiers are in good hands with veterans like Staff Sgt. Gordon Spears marching beside them. "This is my sixth time in 25 years," he said. "Did a med float on USS Nashville, was in Okinawa for six months, and I fought in Desert Storm."

A boot camp instructor at a juvenile detention center, Spears sees many parallels between his home life and military life, helping people as best he can and being inspired in return. "Being in for so many years with guys in their 20s, you say 'I can hang with them.' It's motivating."

And he's motivating them to do their best until their next mission.

The troops will be in California for a month, then head back to Fort Stewart for more training. They're expected to be in Iraq by this summer.

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com