South Georgia soldiers prepare for war - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia soldiers prepare for war

December 9, 2004

Valdosta-- About 30 members of Valdosta's Army National Guard unit left for Ft. Stewart and Ft. Benning Thursday. They'll spend the next few months there training for their first war-time mission in more than 10 years.

Troops answer the call to attention with a hearty "Hooooahhhhh."

"Our soldiers are very motivated, we're looking forward to the training ahead," said 48th Brigade Captain Marc Belscamper.

Some are leaving for Ft. Stewart, others for Ft. Benning, where they'll undergo intense training for an overseas mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"From the day we came on with the orders until the end it will be about 18 months," said Belscamper.

They're not sure where in Iraq they'll be stationed or what they're exact mission will be. One thing they do know is it will be much different than their last deployment-- a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. "Expecting combat conditions and I expect to have a good comradery with my soldiers, we're looking good," said Specialist Thomas Staten.

The past week has been a busy one, preparing equipment, getting their affairs in order, and saying goodbye. "Been spending as much time with my family as I could and my two little kids," said Dunn.

But before they go, these soldiers have one request. "What my soldiers need over there is to know that their families are taken care of, and that the community supports what we're doing over there, so they don't have to worry about what's going on here," said Belscamper.

Something their communities can deliver while they're away fighting for freedom.

The soldiers will train at Ft. Stewart and Ft. Benning for about two weeks, then they'll get a 10 day Christmas break before heading back to training. They expect to head to Iraq in the spring.

posted at 3:25PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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