Signs of war preparation in So. Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Signs of war preparation in So. Georgia

February 5, 2003

Military insiders say when the 101st deploys, war is on the horizon. After Wednesday morning, war appears much closer.

Elements of the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky made a pit stop in Albany on their way to the Port of Jacksonville, Florida. In waves throughout the morning, Blackhawk helicopters refueled at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport before continuing on their mission.

The arrival of the 101st Airborne was unannounced, but it was hard to miss. Dozens of Blackhawk helicopters, as many as 37, refueled at the Albany Airport, before taking off for Jacksonville.

"Yeah we've seen about 13 out here this morning, some over there and some over there," said construction worker Nolen Heck. About 150 yards away from where Heck was making repairs to a building, the massive Blackhawks lined up one after the other.

He says it's a sight he can't wait to tell his sons about. "Oh yeah, my boys would have liked to see this, liked all that."

"Seeing them it almost is a common occurrence they are out there training, refueling, taking off," said Chris Smith. Smith works at the airport and sees military come and go all the time.

But even he admits today's visit is different. "But when finding out now the 101st that after what I watched on TV, with Colin Powell, he put evidence out there, for people to see. Now we know why they are doing what they are doing."

What the military is doing is preparing for a war, and the proof was in our own backyards. Fort Campbell insists this is not a deployment order. In a statement from the Fort, the 101st Airborne will conduct training exercises at the Port of Jacksonville.

posted at 3:40PM by dave.miller@walb.com