As our Third Infantry Soldiers face the dangers daily in Iraq, other troops have come to the Coastal Empire to take their place. More than 100 members of the Texas National Guard have served on Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield for the past year.
As military police, they had a pretty tough assignment, especially when they had to learn the posts almost as quickly as they learned the job.
The 140 soldiers of the 133rd Military Police Company sang the Dog Faced Soldier like long-time members of the Third Infantry. They arrived at Fort Stewart just 16 months ago as Texas National Guard members and assumed the role of active-duty troops.
"It was like drinking from a fire hose," said Capt. Kevin Bayless.
These soldiers served as the interim law and order at both Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield for more than a year.
"When this unit arrived, we had two of our units deployed and we were deactivating another," said provost marshal Maj. Thomas Byrd.
If that wasn't enough, they helped protect the president and other world leaders at the G-8 summit last summer. Not bad for a group that was an artillery unit until they went through accelerated MP training.
"Lots of guys liked it, some didn't, but all got out every morning and got the job done," said Cpl. Forrest Robinson.
One by one, each accepted medals and recognition for their stay, titled Operation Noble Eagle. All say the Army and the Coastal Empire help make the time away from home as manageable as they could expect.
"Fort Stewart has been great, the garrison, the MP battalion, the entire installation has been great," said Capt. Bayless.
Troops listened to final instructions before they return to Texas Saturday, proud they'd served their country, but ready to go home.
If you wonder how accelerated their change was from artillery to military police, the soldiers took the six-month training in four and a half, and the officers' course was supposed to be even longer.
The good news is they'll return to family and loved ones this weekend and they leave with the gratitude of Fort Stewart and Hunter for all their hard work.