Gulfport Honors Its Part Time Soldiers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/16/05

Gulfport Honors Its Part Time Soldiers

Some Gulfport city employees are members of the Army National Guard's 890th Engineering Battalion. They arrived in Iraq in the early days of the war and spent the next year there, providing support to other units.  890th Member Rick Weaver says, "Iraq is probably one of the most devastated countries I have ever seen,  just the people, the way they were treated. You'd go to Saddam's palace in one area and three blocks away you'd have sewage in the street and people living in rubble."

 Weaver and other reservists were the special lunch guests in Orange Grove. Father George Murphy recognized them by sharing an old Christian tradition of striking a prayer bell three times. "And as the sound of the bell lingers across you all let our thoughts and our remembrance and our prayers linger across the ocean to embrace our soldiers who are serving in Iraq and elsewhere," he says.

 The soldiers say they knew right away they were in constant danger. "It was pretty tense gettin' soldiers acclimated to the environment over there and actually gettin' 'em to understand what we're fixin' to face. We were hit a coupla times in ambushes goin' through Iraq, several different places mainly in Fallujah," says Robert Enoch of the 890th.  The men are grateful they came home safe,  when so many service members are coming back in flag draped caskets.  Reggie Sims, another 890th member says, "You never wanna be put in that position again seein' some of your friends get hurt in attacks and stuff like that so you never wanna be put back in that situation but as long as we are in the National Guard we have to do what we gotta do."

 The guardsmen know that means their unit could be activated again and if so, they're ready to go.

 Orange Grove chamber members say they are collecting the names of all Gulfport city employees who serve in the military part time. Their names will be put on a plaque that will hang in the Orange Grove Community Center.

Marcia Hill

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