Local News

Business owners, Guard soldiers ready for deployment

Posted May 19, 2008 11:47 p.m. EDT
Updated April 11, 2010 8:28 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat team is preparing to deploy to Iraq in early 2009. To help ease the transition from work to war, the National Guard invited employers to watch the soldiers train up close.

“At a moment's notice, we can get deployed somewhere in the world. It's very important that anytime we get the opportunity to train, we train as we fight,” Sgt. 1st Class Ivey Lee Cowan said.

A three-week training mission is held at Camp Shelby, Miss., the largest National Guard training site in the country.

“This is actually our basic 120mm mortar,” Pfc. Eric Shepperson said. “Right now, we're running live fire drills, just to be able to learn to control the gun and learn the firing sequence."

Everything they learn has a purpose: survival. And not just their own.

“If another infantry unit is under attack, pinned down, they need some support fire. You need to know how to get this gun up within seconds, because a firefight only lasts maybe a few minutes at the most and guys get killed,” Spc. Darryl Burnett said.

So, they practice, over and over again. The training is meant to replicate the conditions in Iraq.

“Once it's time for you to perform that particular act, you'll do it on cue and you'll do it correctly,” Master Sgt. Dwight Green said.

The National Guard hopes employers will leave the training site with a better understanding of what happens when their workers go off to war.

“I was very impressed with the type of training they actually have. I was a Vietnam vet. I got called up when they were rushing us through. We didn't get a lot of training. We got the training in the field. But here, they seemed really to have taken some consideration of how to prepare our guys and gals before they go over there,” employer Mike Barros said.

The 30th Heavy Brigade will go through another training mission in the fall.