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N.C. National Guard Members Find Rewards In Homeland Mission

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — Air passengers are not the only ones dealing with changes in airport security. Some soldiers patroling

RDU International

say that they are adjusting to a new way of life.

Soldiers with the

North Carolina National Guard

began patroling the airport on Oct. 7. Their homeland mission could last four to six months.

One soldier who lives in Raleigh says that this assignment is quite different from his civilian job at a printing company. Although he is able to stay at home, his family understands what his main focus is right now.

"They understand that I made a commitment a very long time ago to my country and they respect that and they support that. Things that need to be taken care of on the family side of things are taken care of and supported by my family and friends while I'm away doing my job to serve my country," he says.

Soldiers were chosen by how close they live to RDU, so they came from different units.

"I didn't know any of the soldiers that I'm serving on the RDU task force with, so actually, we've bonded together quite well," says another soldier.

The recent graduate of Shaw University says that this mission is different than his overseas deployments in Bosnia and Hungary.

"You see your family, friends [and] neighbors coming through the airport and its just that much more rewarding knowing you're protecting people that you know," he says. "We're part of the public as well, so we understand most people's feelings and how they react to certain things. Our concern is that they understand we're here to help them keep things safe and give them the confidence they need to continue flying."

Most soldiers are able to live at home, but put in long hours at the airport.

In most cases the members of the National Guard get paid less than in their civilian jobs. However, a few soldiers say that their companies are making up the difference to show how much they support their efforts.