Georgians getting ready for active duty - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgians getting ready for active duty

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November 7, 2003

Albany-- More than 43,000 Reservists and National Guardsmen are being called up--including two units out of Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta. No units in South Georgia have been activated, but that doesn't mean they aren't ready if they do get the call.

By day, Carlton Russell makes sure Albany buildings meet the fire code. But, as a member of the C-Company out of Americus, this National Guardsmen of 28 years is always ready for duty, "I'm ready to go. I'm ready to go. I've been around a long time and seen a lot of them come and go."

His colleagues from the Atlanta area have gotten the call. The 171st Combat Support Aviation Battalion that flies Blackhawk Helicopters and the 171st Aviation Regiment that flies C-23 Sherpas have been put on alert. So far, more than 3,500 Georgians have been called up since the war began.

Lt. Col. Ken Baldowski says, "We currently have right now approximately a thousand Georgia national guardsmen deployed overseas for operation Iraqi Freedom." The Atlanta units total about 200 men and women--just when, if at all, they will be sent to Iraq is unknown, although there are reports they could be deployed next year.

For Carlton Russell, the possibility he could go to war suits him just fine, "It don't bother me. I joined up for that reason. You've got a lot of people, especially young guys, that kind of worry about it but I guess you could say I'm old. I've been there, done that and bought the t-shirt, so it really doesn't bother me."

He hasn't heard anything about his unit getting called up. So for now, it's just business as usual. While there are still about 1,000 Georgians in Afghanistan or Iraq, there are another 2,000 guardsmen deployed mostly in the United States in support of the efforts overseas.

Posted at 4:00 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com