In January, Roy Odom swapped his firefighter uniform for a marine reservist uniform. Using armored personnel carriers, Odom's platoon carried the infantry units to their assigned spots. When his unit got called up, Odom says he wondered why they were going into hostile territory a world away. "After bein' over there and seein' what those people have to go through on a day to day basis, not eatin' and everything ya know ya just can't imagine. When they say a third world country really you see what they're talkin' about," he says.
Odom says most of the Iraqi people were grateful to see the soldiers who were rescuing them from tyranny and dictatorship, and last week's deaths of Saddam Hussein's two sons was a major victory. "In just about every city you rode through over there Saddam put a big ole statue of himself or a picture of himself in every city ya know to strike fear in the peoples hearts over there plus we know they kidnapped most of the soldiers over their family and tortured them to make 'em fight cause if they didn't fight they'd kill their families. So I think it's a big issue to bring closure to some of 'em."
Odom's fellow firefighters say they followed the war through news reports, and kept Odom in their thoughts as they saw the battles intensify. Vance Cochran still wears a marine pin from Odom's platoon. "It was out of respect for him and for all our boys over there of course but it really was close to heart of Roy bein' there and bein' a marine," says Cochran. Until all the soldiers come home, the yellow ribbons will hang and the flag supporting the troops will fly in front of the Gautier Fire Station.