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Halifax County Manager Set To Deploy For Second Time

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HALIFAX, N.C. — The U.S. coalition involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom includes career military men and women as well as "citizen soldiers."

Of the 130,000 troops in Iraq, 35,000 are reserves. But they constitute a full 40 percent of the "non-hostile" injuries.

Despite the risk, these part-time troops are ready and willing to serve.

Reservist Matthew Delk is the Halifax County manager. But he is giving up the reigns of his county to fight for his country.

Delk loves casual Fridays. Every other day of the week, he dresses more formally when he goes to work. Delk soon will trade his shirts and slacks for desert camouflage.

A member of the Army National Guard, Delk has been called to active duty for the second time this year. He has his hands full before shipping out again.

"You have a lot of things that you have to do at work to be ready to be gone," he said, "as if you are never going to be here again."

As county manager, Delk oversees 640 employees. The county's annual budget is $63 million. On active duty in the Army National Guard, Delk will command an engineer detachment.

"The unit's mission evolves around firefighting and air crash rescues," he said.

County leaders said they respect Delk's commitment to the military.

When the military calls, Delk has no choice but to answer.

"We are very disappointed, but we understand," said Halifax County Commissioner Rives Manning.

The county commissioners will appoint an interim county manager to fill in for Delk.

Delk's wife and two sons will continue to live in their nearby Roanoke Rapids home while he completes another tour of duty.

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