National Guard Troops in Beaufort Heading to Afghanistan - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/31/07

National Guard Troops in Beaufort Heading to Afghanistan

With all that's going on in Iraq, we often forget about Afghanistan. But some Beaufort Army National Guardsmen and women are headed that way.

The 218th Infantry Brigade heading to Afghanistan for 18 months.

Sgt Jimmy Sexton is one almost 18-hundred South Carolina National Guard troops who received the call to deploy to Afghanistan. He's leaving behind his wife and five kids - as well as his private contracting business.

"If you've got to go, you got to go," said Sgt Jimmy Sexton. "I'll close it down and start it back up when I get back."

It's the single largest deployment of the South Carolina Guard since World War II. Despite leaving loved ones behind, most of these guardsmen say making the adjustment from the civilian world won't be that tough.

" It's kind of like riding a bicycle," said Sgt Sexton. "You get so much training. It's like a switch, it cuts off and goes to the other side."

Many from this unit deployed in 2002 to Shaw Air Force Base on Security Duty, but now it's a whole new ballgame.

"We had shifts where we could get some leave, but on this one, it's not going to happen," said Sgt Sexton.

This time, they'll be in Afghanistan for 18 months helping train the Afghan Army and Police Force. A mission, they're ready for.

"It's a privilege," said Tom Junkin. "We signed the paperwork. No one forced us to. We want to be here and we want to go over and help the people."

"This is a mission that's worthwhile," said Sgt Richard Stafford. "We are helping a nation that is going through a lot of changes, so hopefully it will be changes for the better in the future."

The troops will be saying goodbye to their families and leaving tomorrow afternoon. They will first be going to Mississippi for extra training, before going to Afghanistan.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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