South Georgia families deal with deployment - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia families deal with deployment

By Len Kiese - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - In April, soldiers from the National Guard's 48th Brigade deployed from armories across the state.  It's been difficult for their families here at home.

Several weeks have gone by since many tears fell and loved ones said difficult goodbyes to their military family members. Specialist James Sumner was one of the many South Georgia soldiers headed to Afghanistan.

"He likes it but Mama don't like it," said Arlene Manders.

Through his mother's eyes, he'll always be little Jamie.  But now he's a 21-year-old soldier on his first deployment. "It makes you worry. It makes you age faster," said Manders.

With him so far away, Manders has many worries about her son. "If he's going to come home. I just want him to come home," said Manders.

He tells her that this is what he's trained for. "As a mother, your heart isn't trained for it," said Manders.

What makes it even harder is that Jamie is part of the same battalion that has already experienced casualties in Afghanistan, one of the unfortunate consequences of war. "He needs to be doing what he's doing now for our rights," said Joe Manders.

Jamie's stepfather is proud of what he's doing but admits things aren't the same at home. "Yeah I miss him a lot," said Joe.

So he's looking forward to a quick deployment and has a message for his son. "Hurry up and come home so we can go fishing and wade the creek," said Joe.

In the meantime the family does get to chat with their soldier online or with short phone calls. "When he does get to call, it's normally for a few minutes and then you hang up but you're just glad to know that he's ok and he's alive," said Arlene.

They're counting down the days until those computer chats and phone conversations are replaced with their son in person and home again.

Specialist Sumner is also a newlywed with a baby on the way. The Manders are crossing their fingers that he'll be able to return home in a month for a few days when the baby is born.

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