First responders deployed to National Guard - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

First responders deployed to National Guard

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November 23, 2004

Albany -- City of Albany first responders will be heavily affected by the deployment of the 48th Brigade of the Georgia Army National Guard. Albany Police and Fire Departments will lose some of their finest next month, as they head to Iraq and the war on terrorism.

Sgt. Michael Persley next month will trade in his Albany Police uniform for one of the Georgia Army National Guard. A Second Lt.in the Guard, Persley is one of 7 Albany police officers who are members of the 48th Brigade that is being deployed for duty in Iraq. Persley said "My job will be primarily be convoy escorts. I'm in a Mechanized Infantry platoon. So whenever a convoy needs to go out, my platoon will provide security for those convoys."

That is some of the most dangerous duty in the war on terrorism. Persley said "My duty is to take 40 guys to fight for the United States and bring 40 guys back home."

Plan Review Specialist Carlton Russell, a Staff Sergeant and Bradley Commander in the 48th, is one of four Albany firefighters ordered to deploy. Russell said "I joined because it's what I believe in."

The Albany Police and Fire Departments will have to carry on without these top men. Interim Police Chief Bob Boren says 8 new officers coming out of Police Academy training next month will help, but the guardsmen experience will be missed.

The Fire Department is hiring more firefighters to make up for their loss. Fire Chief Jimmy Arrowood said "You hate to see them go, but you appreciate what they are doing."

Now in his 28th year in the National Guard, Russell has to report January 3rd. Russell said "We will go over and do our job. And we will make a big difference.

Persley said "I see this as being a Police Officer on a bigger scale."

Persley will enjoy Thanksgiving, then report December 6th. Persley said "I'm not going to worry about what's ahead. I'm just going to enjoy the time that I have here now."

Persley and Russell have been told they should be home in July 2006, but both are confident they will be back with the Police and Fire Departments.

The Dougherty County Sheriff's Office has at least one deputy who is a member of the 48th Brigade. The Dougherty County Police have one officer who will be part of this deployment.

posted at 3:36 PM byjimw@walb.com