Deployed Soldiers Begin Camp Shelby Training

Col. Dennis Adams knew he would spend part of his summer at Camp Shelby.

"Normally we would be here for two weeks," the commander of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment said. "We would try do to it as realistically as we can for two weeks."

Instead, the Tennessee regiment had four months to temporarily move to Hattiesburg and train for a real deployment -- quite possibly to Iraq.

"When you're going to war, everything is a bit more serious," the colonel said.

The 278th was the first convoy to roll into the newly established Camp Shelby mobilization center. By July 1, 4,000 soldiers from this regiment will be training in South Mississippi's sweltering summer heat. Major Rhonda Keisman is with the 278th.

"The morale of most everyone is excellent," she said. "They feel they are trained, ready, and willing to do what they are called upon to do."

The last time the Tennessee cavalry suited up for war was 1951. Yet in a matter of months, the Tennessee, Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Vermont soldiers could be unloading duffle bags in the middle of a war zone. Sgt. James Jones once served in Vietnam. There's a chance he could be sent to Iraq with his regiment.

"My train of thought, I would say just my own is just come on down here, do training, go as far as we can go," he said.

Col. Dennis Adams pointed out that the soldiers are more serious now.

"Everybody is taking more stuff to heart," he said. "I think we're going to have a good training session here."