Local News

More N.C. Soldiers Get Call For Duty In Persian Gulf

Posted January 13, 2003 5:50 a.m. EST

— Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division prepared Monday for deployment while Marine and Air Force units continued leaving North Carolina bases for the Persian Gulf.

At Camp Lejeune, tanks and their crews loaded aboard air-cushioned landing craft for a trip to the ships. Air crews at a Goldsboro air base flew jet fighters away in the predawn darkness.

The deployments that started last week were part of orders to military units around the nation as the United States is building the largest military force since the Gulf War.

In all, more than 14,000 people in North Carolina have received deployment orders since last week and more deployments are anticipated, especially at the state's Army and Marine bases.

The latest orders were received Sunday night to send about 5,000 soldiers from Fort Bragg, including as many as 4,000 paratroopers. Base spokesmen said Monday that no large groups of soldiers had left the post yet.

Some soldiers began getting smallpox vaccinations on Friday at Fort Bragg.

"These troops will now be doing what they need to do to get ready - immunizations, classes, getting their families ready," said Maj. Gary Tallman, a Fort Bragg spokesman.

At Camp Lejeune, Marines continued to be transported to ships for the journey to the Gulf region. Some 7,000 Marines received orders last week to deploy.

Packing up at the Marine base was expected to be completed by Wednesday, when the unit's commanding general boards a helicopter to fly to ships in his task force, said spokeswoman Capt. Kelly Freshour.

At Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, F-15E Strike Eagle jets from the 4th Fighter Wing and tankers flew away. The Air Force wouldn't say exactly how many personnel or how many jets were leaving or where they were bound.

"Hopefully, not a bomb will be dropped or a bullet fired," said Clay Wilcoxen, of Lexington, Ky., after his 22-year-old son Matthew departed the air base.

The air crews were "fired up and ready to do their job," said Col. Eric J. Rosborg, the wing commander.

More Air Force crewmen were scheduled to leave Monday evening, said base spokesman Sgt. Bryan Bouchard, but numbers of personnel and their destination weren't released.

Marine air crews packed up parts and personal items and left bases at Havelock and Jacksonville for Navy transport ships waiting off the coast. Crews from the New River Marine Corps Air Station fly and maintain helicopters that haul troops and those from Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station at Havelock fly and maintain jet fighters and surveillance aircraft.

The Army deployment orders that were received Sunday came a day after the first wave of 7,000 Marines began boarding ships at the state port at Morehead City.

Fort Bragg soldiers already are deployed to Afghanistan, central and southwest Asia and Europe as part of the war on terrorism.

A task force of more than 3,000 soldiers from the 82nd has just returned from Afghanistan, where they are being relieved by another unit from the 82nd. Commanders of the returning task force arrived at Pope Air Force Base on Sunday night.

On Friday, about 1,000 other Fort Bragg soldiers got orders to deploy. They included supply, medical and chemical specialists as well as artillery and aviation groups.

Before Friday, about 8,000 Fort Bragg soldiers had been deployed in the war on terrorism. The newest deployments will push that total to almost 14,000 - about a third of the soldiers on the post.