Lenoir-based National Guard unit gathers with friends, families
If not for the camouflage fatigues worn by the folks in the front two pews and up on the stage, the gathering Saturday afternoon at Mountain Grove Church on Connelly Springs Road would have looked like any other community gathering.
But the words from those speaking on the stage carried hints of the fears that those sitting behind the soldiers were doing so well to hide.
Many used the word “sacrifice.” Most spoke of the volatility of the region the soldiers soon will enter.
The 630th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion of the N.C. National Guard deploys later this week to Wisconsin, and then in two or three weeks to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in support of the multinational observer mission that oversees the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. The 630th, headquartered in Lenoir, will have duties such as providing transportation operations and postal services for troops in the region.
The mobilization ceremony at the church was an hour of pomp, ritual and speeches filled with thanks and encouragement.
Before and after, family and soldiers mingled, and all looked happy and at ease. Or they did until you asked them how they felt about the deployment.
Janice Eavenson of Hudson said she is handling this deployment by her son, Sgt. Brad Eavenson, perhaps better than when he went to Iraq a few years ago. Her husband, Pete, said he used to be handling it better.
“A few months ago I wasn’t worried. … But over the past few months, with all that has transpired over there, I’m about as worried as the first time,” he said.
Pam White of Windsor, whose husband, 1st Sgt. Vernon White, went to Iraq in 2005-06, agreed that the destination being Egypt, not Iraq or Afghanistan, is no comfort.
“It’s not any easier. I thought it would be,” she said.
The soldiers’ response can be summed up: This is part of what they signed up for.
Spc. Clayton Williams of Lenoir said there’s “a good, positive energy” among the soldiers in the unit. He feels good.
And he agreed with the families – the destination doesn’t make any difference.
“We’re trained soldiers,” he said.