Brundidge 900th prepare

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 1, 2003

Unit set to leave at 9 a.m. today

The deployment ceremony from the 900th Maintenance Company of the Alabama National Guard was very different from the unit's deployment ceremony in 1990.

There were a few misty eyes but nothing to compare with the tears that flowed when the unit was deployed for service in Saudi Arabia.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Brundidge unit will be attatched to the Air Force to provide homeland security, probably as nearby as Birmingham and Montgomery.

"The Air Force security is being deployed to Afghanistan and we will provide security at nearby Air Force bases," said Henry Middlebrooks. "We were sent to Saudi Arabia before, so this is not as emotional for the families as it was then, but I've been thinking a lot about what we are being asked to do and the importance of it.

"Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 we didn't worry about a threat at home. Now, that's a reality. So, I think our mission will be very important. There is the potential for great danger at home and the people we will be protecting will be our families and friends and we will be protecting our homeland. To me, that's very important. When I was in Saudi Arabia, I wasn't really worried about my family back at home. Today, I'm worried about them."

No members of the 900th downplayed the importance of their mission.

"What's more important than family and home?" Middlebrooks asked.

Mark Steed agreed that the mission of the 900th is important, but he also considers the assignment to homeland security a blessing.

"No matter what duty you have, there are dangers involved," Steed said. "But, a lot of units have been activated

and sent straight over there. We'll only be five or six hours from home and that's good duty. Uncle Sam will keep us busy and I think everyone is more than willing to serve. This is why we're here. And, wherever, they send me, I'll be glad to go and to serve however I'm needed."

For some of the young soldiers, leaving will be harder this time than it was in 1990.

Larry Hartley will be leaving behind three little ones this time.

"That makes it real tough," Hartley said, fighting back tears. "It going to be hard not coming home at night."

His 6-year-old son Matthew looked up quickly at his dad.

"Daddy won't be coming home at night?" he asked wide-eyed.

When his grandmother Sue Hartley told him no, the youngster took his daddy's hand but said nothing more.

"Being close to home will make it a lot better," Hartley said. "I'm just glad we'll be close, but you never know what's going to happen. If we go to war …. we just don't know."