Local News

TONIGHT AT 11: Part-Time Soldiers Ready To Take Reins In Iraq

Posted January 22, 2004

— Urban warfare training at Fort Polk, La., is intense.

About 4,500 National Guard soldiers from across North Carolina are here to learn what it takes to handle a country in conflict.

Called up from their civilian lives, these part-time soldiers are getting ready to take the reins in Iraq.

Sgt. Fletcher Sargent had hoped to land a fulltime job with the Justice Department and spend more time with his wife, Page. They have been married only a year.

Now, everything is on hold as he heads to Iraq.

"Naturally, you are going to be somewhat nervous," he said. "She (Page) is worried about my safety and security. Of course, I'm worried about hers, as well."

Specialist Andrea Smith also gave up a lot for the mission ahead.

"At home in Fayetteville, I'm a stay-at-home mother and wife of a 2-year-old daughter," Smith said.

Now, her grandmother watches her daughter while her husband works.

Because most of these soldiers work civilian jobs back home, deploying overseas is something new. For many, it will be the first time they've ever spent a long period of time away from their family.

They have been away several months already for training. They expect to be in Iraq for about a year.

For the rest of this story, watch Thursday's WRAL News at 11 p.m.

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