AUSTIN (KXAN) - Texas ArmyNational Guard soldiers with the 36thInfantry Division based at CampMabry in Austin are about to embark on a unique and historicjourney to Iraq. They will take command of 20,000 U.S. troopsalready stationed there.
Their mission is assist in the drawdown of forces in Basra inSouthern Iraq.
“We’ll also be advising and assisting the Iraqisecurity forces,” said Maj. Gen. Eddy Spurgin. He is the 36thInfantry commanding general.
“Most of these soldiers in this division headquarters arecitizen soldiers,” he said.
The 800 soldiers include doctors, lawyers, bankers, electriciansand law enforcement officers. They are typically called in to dutyin a state-wide emergency, such as a major hurricane. But many ofthem are taking time away from work this time to assist in thedraw-down in Iraq.
“I’ve been in banking for nearly 25 years,”said Charles Clemons.
Clemons works for Bank ofAmerica. The company he works for allows him to take a leave ofabsence while he goes on tour.
“Many business-world tactics or procedures are integratedinto the military,” Clemons said.
“I’ve been a police officer for 16 years,”said Stephanie Dugan. “I thought about it a long time and atfirst thought maybe I’m a little too old, maybe I’m tooset in my ways. I decided I had a lot to learn and a lot to impartand I really love my country as 'Hallmark' as that sounds. So, Idecided to put my money where my mouth is. Instead of talking aboutit, just do it.”
Dugan, 44, like many with work-related skills, will use herknowledge and experiences to help better integrate the Iraqigovernment with their own surroundings.
”It’s about self-discipline, self-confidence, abouthow you project yourself, about organization,” Dugansaid.
Spurgin is a civilian worker as well.
“I have a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture whenI’m not doing this,” he said.
And he's proud of the men and women who serve under him.
“These are national guardsman from small towns, largetowns, civilian jobs, and they’ve answered their call andwant to serve their state and country,” Spurgin said.
A special ceremony for friends and family of the soldiers willbe held at the Frank ErwinCenter on Sept. 26.
The team is expected to leave a short time after that and trainin Washington for a few months.
The 36th Infantry Division is expected to arrive in Iraq aroundthe middle of December and be there for about nine months until theState Department takes over control.
Winter is invading Texas with a vengeance as snow, sleet and ice were unleashed on much of northern and western sections of the state.
Caldwell County residents gathered Thursday evening to organize their fight against a proposed landfill that they say poses a hazard that they don't need.
The pastor of the Austin church attended by the teacher who was killed Thursday in Benghazi remembered him as a spiritual friend dedicated to improving the lives of others.
In just a few months, Pflugerville will be home to a new water park. It's just the latest development as the community becomes a major suburb.
Global civil rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose legacy is ending South African apartheid, has died.
A man convicted 21 years ago for engaging in ritual child abuse was released Thursday after the DA's office agreed the only physical evidence against him was faulty.