1086th Guard unit gets an ‘official’ send-off

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2003

VIDALIA &045; Members of the 1086th Transportation Company are well-trained professionals who will accomplish their mission, Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau said at a Wednesday send-off ceremony.

&uot;And when they return, they will know that they have played a significant role in upholding our freedoms for all Americans, today and in the future,&uot; said Landreneau, who commands the Louisiana Army National Guard.

The 40-member company left Monday for Fort Polk, La., for several weeks of training before leaving to parts unknown as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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But they were bused back Wednesday morning to be given an official send-off that included remarks by Landreneau and other Guard officials.

The soldiers were also given the rest of Wednesday on leave with their family and friends. They were ordered to report back to Vidalia’s National Guard Armory early this morning to return to Fort Polk.

There, they will intensively train in physical fitness, weaponry, and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. They will then be flown from England Air Force Base in Alexandria to an overseas location that is not yet known.

They include people like Spc. Chuck Hansford of Monroe, who already served in Operation Desert Storm.

&uot;It’s just another go ’round for me,&uot; Hansford said following the ceremony. &uot;For these (newer) guys, there’s a lot of apprehension. You have to be scared &045; but not totally scared.&uot;

&uot;It hasn’t dawned on me yet&uot; that deployment is actually happening, said Spc. Anita Washington of Vidalia who, like most of the other soldiers, was surrounded by family and friends.

But if any company can handle the tasks assigned to them, the 1086th can, Landreneau said.

The company’s members, he said, &uot;already know the meaning of service (and) have developed a reputation for excellence.

&uot;I have full faith and confidence in the leadership of this unit, and I am confident that they will meet the challenging tasks before them with outstanding success.&uot;

The families of those sent overseas have critical role to play as well, said Lt. Col. Larry Willis.

&uot;You insure that the daily activities of life continue when the solider is away,&uot; Willis said. &uot;Keep the lines of communication with your loved ones open.&uot;

Participating in the company’s Family Support Group, which will be based at the armory, is also important, Willis said.

Other than that, &uot;all we can do is say a lot of prayers,&uot; said Melody Frazier, whose cousin, LaKeisha Crumby, is being deployed.

Still, with the company being deployed for up to a year, &uot;we’ll miss him,&uot; said Connie Merrill of Vidalia, whose son, Sgt. Joey Merrill, is also being deployed.

&uot;Looks like I’m going to lose my baby for a while,&uot; said his father, Danny Merrill.