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More Fort Bragg Troops Head Toward Kosovo

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POPE AIR FORCE BASE — North Carolina forces are headed for the front line. They will be the first to face Serb forces if and when the U.S. decides to use ground troops in the Kosovo crisis.

In all, 450 Fort Bragg soldiers have been called up. Many of them left over the weekend. Those who have not left are waiting to deploy.

Forty 82nd Airborne soldiers will be leaving from Pope Air Force Base Monday night.

The 40 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment spent their down time fighting boredom as they prepared to deploy.

Once they hit the ground, the soldiers' mission is to guard NATO aircraft.

"I've noticed something that kind of amazed me. Everybody seems to be really pumped up. A lot of guys that were ETSing and leaving tried to stay here cause they really want to go. You train for a long time, and you want to put it to use, and this is our opportunity to put it to use," said LT Shane Tarrant.

The soldiers deploying say it was tough to say good-bye to family and friends, but they know this is part of the job.

"My parents and my friends know what I have to do. They know the job I have to do. They are pretty confident in my ability to work in any problem situation that lies ahead," said SPC Omar Tejeda.

"It's just that I'm going to be so far away. We're pulling security, so there is not a whole lot of danger. The fact that we are going to be so far away, that's what my family is concerned about," said SPC Jeffrey Bates.

How long the soldiers will be deployed has not been determined.

The 82nd Airborne is based at Fort Bragg, and they have to be able to deploy anywhere in the world within 18 hours of being notified.

The 82nd saw action during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in October of 1983.

Six years later the 82nd was in Panama for Operation Just Cause. Elements of the 82nd also fought their way into Iraq in January of 1991 during Operation Desert Storm.


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