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Mississippi Guard troops to be deployed to Kuwait

By SABRINA SIMMS | The Natchez Democrat | Published: February 4, 2018

NATCHEZ, Miss. (Tribune News Service) -- Soldiers from the 155th Armored Brigade in Natchez are being deployed for one year to serve most of their time in Kuwait.

Troops are scheduled to depart Feb. 11 for training at Camp Shelby before being deployed to Kuwait in June.

Sgt. Marlin Gatlin at the Mississippi National Guard Armory on Liberty Road said the soldiers are not expected to return until March 2019.

"Our mission is (to provide) quick reaction forces for the Middle East -- any country close to Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iberia, or even some countries in Africa. If anything was to happen our mission is to backup any forces that are already there," Gatlin said.

Of the 4,200 Armored Brigade's troops being deployed, about 3,800 troops are from the state of Mississippi, Gatlin said.

"The last time we went (to Kuwait) was in 2009, and we were there for about 11 months that time," he said. "The Louisiana Guard is there now. We're actually replacing them and then Tennessee will be replacing us (in March of next year)."

Gatlin said he wishes local civilians should were more aware about the National Guard's presence in Natchez.

"What they should know ... is that we have a unit here. A lot of people don't know, mainly because we do most of our training at Camp Shelby," he said. "Most of our training is usually away from here."

Soldiers at the armory in Natchez said their largest concern is not about the about what lies ahead but what they are leaving behind.

"We're pretty confident in our job and in each other," Gatlin said. "We're like a family here, but leaving our families at home is the biggest stress to us."

Sgt. Jeremiah Adams agreed.

"It's definitely going to take a toll on the family, us leaving, and them having to do things that they normally wouldn't have to, like make doctor's appointments and stuff like that for the kids. That's my biggest concern," Adams said.

Specialist Erich Buckles said training has prepared and will prepare them for all other stresses aside from leaving their family.

"As far as us being over there, we've been training for this for a few years now, so there's nothing new for us. The biggest thing is family," he said.

Others, such as Pfc. Michael Bogard, said they will be experiencing being deployed for the first time.

"My biggest concern is being over there, because I'm new here and haven't experienced any of this yet," he said.

Gatlin said one thing that would help with the stress of leaving home is getting encouragement from the community.

"I remember in 2009 we got care packages, and it meant a lot to me at the time," Gatlin said. "So, if the community would come together, then I'm pretty sure these guys would appreciate care packages. It's small ... but it means a lot to the soldiers."

(c) 2018 The Natchez Democrat. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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