Men and women from southeast Georgia are about to put years of military training to the test. National Guard soldiers from the 48th Brigade are in the process of deploying to serve in Iraq.
For years, we've seen Scott Courdin as a hero to animals. As curator of the GSU Raptor Center, he's rescued, rehabilitated, and even released birds of prey like bald eagles.
"The variety of animals we have here and working with children, it's a dream come true," he said.
Courdin's unfulfilled dream has been to serve his country. So he traded one eagle for another when he joined the National Guard. With basic training behind him, he leaves this month for a year in Iraq.
"It was now or never," he told us. "With everything going on in Iraq, this was a good time to join and serve my country."
He and bride Tiffany stepped up their wedding for the deployment. "I'm very proud of him because of the sacrifices he's making and how hard it will be to be away," she said. "But he thinks this is something he has to do."
At 34, Spc. Courdin barely made the age limit to join the National Guard. But coworkers say he's the embodiment of the citizen-soldier to set aside career and family to serve his country.
"I have so much respect for him, because, me personally, that's not something I would want to do," said coworker Lauren Baker.
Courdin took one final look around Wednesday to remember all he'll leave behind. He said he is proud to serve his country and is proud that his boss at the raptor center has accommodated this all the way.
If Courdin needed anything familiar during this deployment, his unit in the 48th Brigade is nicknamed the Animals.