Marcus Reynolds is quick to admit he's scared about fighting a potential war with Iraq, but the 25-year-old Specialist in the Thomson National Guard says that's normal.
"If you're not scared, then there must be something wrong with you," he said.
All 85 members of the Thomson National Guard - part of the 1st Battalion of the 214th Field Artillery Regiment, B Battery - are being deployed Thursday to Fort Campbell, Ky. From there they will be making the long plane ride to the Middle East.
But before they leave, the City of Thomson is having a celebratory send-off for the group at 8 a.m. Thursday morning at the Thomson National Guard Armory.
Reynolds, who's been in the Marine Corps and National Guard for seven years, has come to grips with the fact that he'll be leaving his family and fiancee for an unidentified amount of time.
Thomson National Guard Specialist Marcus Reynold and his unit are being deployed Thursday to Fort Campbell, Ky.
Photo by Elwood Hamilton
"I'm trying to keep a sane head and trying to get in touch with my family," he said.
Reynolds also said that his family is holding up well, including his fiancee.
"(His fiancee) understands; she prays; she knows I'm going," he said. "My mom is used to it."
Reynolds also is a correctional officer with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department, and he's glad to know that his hometown is getting together to support the National Guard.
"It makes you feel good inside," he said of the upcoming send-off event. "It's like you're doing something honorable."
Several community leaders are set to speak at the event, including Thomson Mayor Bob Knox, Chairman of the County Commission Charlie Newton and President of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce Mary Anne Coussons.
"Obviously these are our local neighbors, friends and family," said Knox of the National Guard. "It's a jolt to realize these people will be involved in the details of war and military activity. We haven't forgotten them and we won't forget them."
Reynolds doesn't fit the stereotype of a soldier about to be sent off to war - he's cheery, confident, and doesn't give off the slightest hint of worry. He says that's because of the bond he's formed with his fellow guardsmen.
"It's a lot of family members, so that helps out a lot," he said. "I know we're going pull together, because we're already close. We're family, and you've got to support your family."
Another local man who's leaving Thursday is Specialist Bryan Thomas, 24. He and his fiancee Helena were supposed to marry May 17. A possible war has changed their plans. Instead of waiting, they're getting married this week.
"We gotta do what we gotta do," Thomas said. "I'm not scared, but I don't want to go."
Despite the uncertainty of the future, many of the guardsmen are trying to keep their heads up. Reynolds said he didn't have any idea what he or his guardsmen would be doing in Iraq, but he did have a preference.
"Hopefully we'll be playing cards," he said with a smile.
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