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Seymour Reserves Prepare for Possible Deployment

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SEYMOUR JOHNSON — If 33,000 volunteers get called to active duty, it would be the biggest round-up of reservists since the Gulf War.

President Clinton is likely to approve the plan next week. If that happens, reservists from Seymour Johnson Air Force base could be among those sent overseas.

The Pentagon is making it clear that air-refueling wings would be among the first to be called up.

The 916th refueling wing at Seymour Johnson is business as usual right now, but no one would be surprised if the call to active duty came soon.

"Yes, there's a lot of talk, and I'm just real thrilled with the response that we're getting from our people. There's a lot of dedicated people in this group who are ready to respond if called," said Col. Gregory Kline, Commander, 916th OPS Group.

The President is expected to call up 33,000 reservists next week with air-refueling wings at the top of the list.

Their specialty is using massive KC-135s to refuel warplanes in mid-air. While they do not have their marching orders, they would not be surprised to be sent overseas.

"They're watching the news, and we keep them informed. Very upbeat, very positive. Everybody wants to do their best, and it's good morale," said LTC Eric Sitrin, Logistics Group Commander.

The 916th says it will be ready if the call comes. Two-thirds of the wing have full-time civilian jobs.

Many are pilots for private airlines. They have to deal with the mindset of possible deployment and employers who would have to give them up for a while for time overseas.

"We need the support of employers to give the time to the people to come out and do this training to be ready when called," said Kline.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
John Clark, Web Editor

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