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Reservists Await Orders for Kosovo Mission

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — More than 33,000 reserve troops received the call to duty Tuesday for the crisis in Kosovo, and 2,000 of those reservists will mobilize immediately.

TheArmy National Guardhas 350 troops and 24 Apache attack helicopters awaiting orders at RDU.

"We get a chance to serve our country in some way, and it's nice to know that once you are sent out to engage an enemy target, you're using the most sophisticated piece of equipment in the world," says Chief Warrant Officer Tony Deguispe with the National Guard Reserve.

The 130th Aviation Regiment has not received orders to activate, but the commander says calling up the guard is almost becoming standard operating procedure.

"With the drawdown of the total force, the guard and reserve are certainly going to be more involved in deployments in the future," says Lieut. Col. Ray Blackmon with the National Guard Reserve. "I believe it is just going to become a fact of life, and something folks are just going to have to deal with on a personal level."

A personal level means that people who have everyday jobs and usually put in one weekend a month and two weeks a year, may be ordered to become full-time soldiers.

"You always have some reservations, but it's a job that I have committed to do," says Chief Warrant Officer Kurt Cunningham with the National Guard Reserve. "And if we're called up, that's what we do. I'm not itching to go, but if I'm called that's what we do."

The Morrisville-based aviation regiment recently completed a five-month tour of duty in Kuwait.

Reservists in other parts of the state are watching and waiting for their orders as well.

The 916th air refueling wing at Seymour Johnson has not been called as well, but the members are expecting to go. The wing's giant KC-135's can refuel warplanes in midair, something NATO would love to utilize.

"A fighter aircraft does not have real long range so for them to be able to come and fly, get refueled and then go back to their mission, saves a lot of time and more effectively use our assets," says CPT Keith Tackett, the 916th ARW spokesman.

A handful of reservists from the unit are already in Europe on a volunteer mission.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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