Call puts Richardson on alert

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

You won’t find too many coaches in this area more laid back than Adams Christian track coach Bill Richardson. Always known for a laugh at any moment, the man who quit his job with the railroad nearly 15 years ago to become a teacher so he can stay in the area takes life as it comes.

Richardson lives with his family in rural Rodney in an area so secluded it’s not unusual to see deer or turkey taking a stroll through the backyard.

But the man who quit his job with the railroad and enrolled at Alcorn to become a teacher recently got the call that shook him and his family &045; the 35-year reservist in the National Guard got the call to be on alert for a possible deployment to the Middle East.

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It’s put his family &045; and the school, for that matter &045; on edge after he got the call while out at the MPSA state softball tournament last month. If he gets shipped out, it will be the third deployment for the coach who served time in Desert Storm and was sent to Bosnia in 2001.

Even though Richardson couldn’t be more laid back if you put him in a brand new recliner, the call hasn’t set well with him.

&uot;The thing that bothers me about it is if this happens this will be the third time,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve got a 13-year-old daughter at home. The first time was Desert Storm, and my wife came to Fort Hood, Texas, and brought our little baby down there. She was only a few months old.

&uot;The second time was Bosnia, and it just tore her heart. If this happens in her little 13 years, this will be three times. Those are my only concerns &045; my youngest child and my wife.&uot;

Richardson, a master sergeant, takes to the duty part of it, well, like you’d think he would. In his first deployment, he didn’t stay long before troops were ordered back home.

The 11-month deployment to Bosnia was an assignment teaching a class in a poverty-stricken area there. He learned the language and went through the normal duties of teaching at the school &045; arrive in a convoy of no less than four military vehicles at the school, hang your M-16 rifle on a hook outside of the classroom and start teaching.

&uot;It didn’t bother the kids a bit,&uot; Richardson said. &uot;I got to be real close with a lot of them.&uot;

During his 10 months in Desert Storm, Richardson picked up bits and pieces of the Arabic language by learning the alphabet. There are only 28 letters in the alphabet, but the key is knowing which letter is what by where it’s used.

Of the 28 letters, there are 112 characters. A letter may mean something different if it’s at the beginning of a word, the middle of a word or the end of a word.

But in a call pending on a third deployment, Richardson said his assignment can last anywhere up to two years. The Iraqi government may take over and send all Americans home, or he could be there for 24 months.

That’s when he starts thinking about what’s most important &045; daughter Gabrielle and his wife of 35 years, Camella.

&uot;I feel that the president thought it was the best interest to have this war,&uot; Richardson said. &uot;I’ll do my duty, come home, coach kids in track and listen to my daughter play the piano.&uot;

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 445-3632 or at