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GMC News

Junior College Reservists to be Deployed

Almost half of GMC\’s junior college reservists to be deployed in early 2005
By Merritt Melancon – The Union-Recorder

When Georgia Military College\’s corps of cadets convenes for winter quarter classes, they\’ll be doing it without 37 of their classmates.

The Department of Defense announced last week that it has mobilized the Georgia National Guard\’s 48th Infantry Brigade. Thirty-seven members of the 48th are currently enrolled at GMC\’s junior college, and one is a GMC staff member.

The brigade is headquartered in Macon, but has units in 30 towns throughout Georgia. There are 4,500 guardsmen in the brigade, and 3,500 will be called up for duty by the beginning of 2005.

Sgt. David Bill, who is serving as GMC\’s director of cadet recruitment, will be the brigade\’s public affairs officer. He said many guardsmen knew they were going to be activated soon, but most weren\’t sure until the last couple of weeks.

\”The official notification came out about two weeks ago, but we knew for a fairly long time that this was going to happen,\” Bill said. \”We\’re kind of limited on what we can talk about at the moment. But the plan is that starting at some point in December, 10 percent of the brigade will be called up to active duty – initially to Fort Stewart. Predominantly the headquarters elements of the brigade will be called up initially to prepare for the main body of the brigade, which will report in January.\”

Bill, along with 1,200 other troops, is part of this initial mobilization. He added that he will be heading to Fort Stewart the first or second week of December, head back home for the holidays and then report again in January with the bulk of troops.

The bulk of troops number about 2,300 and include the 37 in GMC\’s cadet corps. Spec. Rachel Cooper of Lafayette and Spec. Thomas Streeter of Columbus are two the cadets who are getting ready for finals before they head home for the holidays and then report to Fort Stewart.

Both cadets attend GMC as part of the State Service Scholarship program, and both are reservists in the Georgia National Guard. They\’ll spend 90 days training at Fort Stewart, then they\’ll train at the Army\’s desert environment training base in Fort Irwin, Calif., for about 30 days. By next spring, they\’ll begin a 12-month rotation to the Middle East.

Streeter is pursuing his associate\’s degree general studies in science. He is 21 years old and was planning to graduate at the end of winter quarter. Then he planned to join the Army full-time and become a drill sergeant.

\”Honestly I feel that (deploying is part of) my duty to serve my country and my family,\” Streeter said. \”It\’s my job, basically. I had put my priorities in the order of school and then military. It\’s been school so far, now it\’s time to step up with the military.\”

Streeter is a specialist trained in the operation of Bradley tanks.

Cooper would have graduated at the end of winter quarter as well. She then planned to complete a degree in criminal justice at Georgia College & State University and enlist in the Army full time.

\”I feel proud, but unsure,\” Cooper said. \”But I\’m looking at it as my opportunity to actually do something for our country. Instead of just sitting back, I can actually take part.\”

Cooper is a specialist trained to maintain the soldier\’s records. She calls herself an administrative assistant, and she said she would probably be working as a mail carrier inside the brigade.

Both of them said they will finish their degree programs when they return, but they may opt for on-line courses.

Bill said the 37 cadets who have been mobilized represent a quarter of the junior college\’s corps of cadets. The loss of this enrollment, especially senior cadets like Streeter and Cooper, means they will have to reorganize the leadership of the corps.

\”It\’s an impact inside the corps of cadets because most of the senior leadership in the cadet corps are part of this unit,\” Bill said. \”So it impacts the overall cadet corps. The commandant will be reorganizing the corps as necessary. They\’ve probably been picking, identifying others to fill their roles.\”

Streeter said he finished the process of filling his position Monday afternoon.

While the brigade is training and while they are in the Middle East, the new cadet officers, the rest of the school and Milledgeville will be able to keep in contact with the GMC guardsmen and keep up with what they are doing through a 48th Infantry Brigade Web site. As public affairs officer for the brigade, Bill said he\’s already planning a Web site where families, friends and even classmates will be able to keep track of their soldiers. He said he will have more information about that later.

Merritt Melancon can be reached at (478) 453-1451 or by e-mail at newsroom@unionrecorder.com