March 20, 2003
Posted at: 8:22 p.m. CST
JONESBORO, Ark. -- The start of war with Iraq is having it's effect on Region 8. On Thursday, Company A of the Jonesboro-based 875th Engineer Battalion of the Arkansas National Guard mobilized their equipment in anticipation for a year of active duty.
"I would do anything for this country," Spec. Patrick Hart said while loading his equipment at a rail yard outside of Jonesboro.
Company A received orders to mobilize of up to a year of federal duty on Monday. They spent the day loading equipment on railcars to be shipped to Ft. Lewis, Washington.
"Right now it's a real emotional roller coaster," Spec. Brian Presson said.
"We've ready to go," 1st Sgt. Gary Kersey said, while supervising the loading. "We're highly trained, highly motivated. We're ready to go."
In just seven days, Company A is scheduled to report to the armory on the campus of Arkansas State University, with deployment coming two days later.
"The hardest thing is talking to you spouse," Hart said. "She doesn't really understand why we're going, and what we're doing. It's hard to convey to them that we've been training our whole lives for this, and what are we training for if we don't go?"
When the 875th arrives at Fort Lewis, its Guardsmen will receive a fifteen day refresher course in how use equipment like this armored personnel vehicle. After that, they may be shipped out, quite possibly to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom
"Right now, it's just kind of a fly by night type of thing," Presson said. "As you find out the emotions you go through, you can think about it and think about it, but it's hard to know what your emotions are until your in that situation."
As for the current situation facing America, Hart feels very strongly about it.