Honor Ceremony for Local Reservists

The 683rd Engineering Detachment of firefighters was called up three weeks ago. Their mission could range from the support of air fields, ammo depots or fuel dumps to assisting in search and rescue missions. The Family Support Group held a send off party for the men and women of the group on Sunday.

Members of the 683rd Engineering group come from far and wide to be a part of this unit. Every month, Specialist Michael Lowery drives 10 hours from his home in Charlotte,North Carolina to train as an Army firefighter in Pascagoula.

"I just love the job itself. I do it at home, do it as a volunteer and do it in the Army. It's just a way of life," says SPC. Lowery.

Lowery says the deployment was not unexpected, but like others in his unit, he worries about those he will leave behind.

"We knew we'd come to it one day and it's harder on my wife right now than it is me. I just think it hasn't hit home yet," he said.

"We knew it was coming. We're all well trained. The hardest part is leaving your family, but they're real supportive. We're ready to go," says SPC. Kenny Cumbest of Pascagoula.

Staff Sergeant Rodrick Carter has been in the Army for nineteen and half years. This is his second deployment, but it's the first time for his wife and 8 year old daughter. He says all soldiers need to stay connected to their families through letters and phone calls.

"You don't want to be that person that's out there that's the missing father or the father that they talk about. You wanna be the one that they know. So we wanna try to stay involved in our children's lives and our family's lives while we're gone," said SSGT. Carter.

"It's pretty hard, but I have to continue to have faith and you have to pray and we're gonna have  times when we'll get down and stuff, but we'll just have to be strong," said his wife, Valeria Carter.

Their daughter Tia says she'll do everything she can to help her mom while her dad is away.

"I'm going to help her do stuff in the house. I'll help her clean the house up and wash the dishes," she said.

Even though families must be left behind, the group says this is an opportunity they wouldn't want to miss.

"They're real excited. You know they're getting a chance to go out and defend their country and do something worthwhile to defend their homeland," says First Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Aplin.

The group will leave for additional training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky later this week. Then they will travel to an undisclosed location.

by Jennifer Holliman