Town supports soldiers with sendoff

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 13, 2009

The 40 members of Monticello’s Headquarters and HeadquartersCompany, 106th Brigade Support Battalion have been training to goto war for a year, and now they’re ready.

“It’s going to be a wonderful tour,” said Spc. Clarence Ball ofMonticello, a seven-year National Guardsman.

The company’s deployment to Iraq this summer will be Ball’ssecond trip to Iraq, so he and other HHC, 106th BSB veterans havebeen pep-talking the younger soldiers, “keeping their heads up” andinstilling confidence.

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On Saturday, Monticello did the same.

Monticello residents gathered on downtown sidewalks at 10:30a.m. to see their soldiers on parade, escorted by numerous lawenforcement officers and firemen with sirens blaring. The membersof HHC, 106th BSB marched through the center of town to the soundof clapping hands and the blurry sight of waving American flags toa ceremony in their honor, followed by a private picnic for thesoldiers and their families.

The troops were prayed over and promised to.

“We’ll take care of your families,” New Hebron Mayor Cindy Bryantold the company. “All you have to do is call and we’ll stand inthe gap, because you’re standing in the gap for us.”

Monticello Mayor Dave Nichols addressed not guardsmen, butmembers of the public, making sure the Guard’s mission wasunderstood.

“There are people all around the world who would love to destroythis country because we can vote and we can worship God freely -these men and women are about to go fight for that,” he said.”They’re going for you, and they’re going for me.”

Lawrence County Supervisors President Steven Garrett praisedHHC, 106th BSB as an elite unit at the friendly expense ofMonticello’s Matt Russell, a soldier and former player on aGarrett-coached Dixie Youth baseball team.

“He was one of those guys who wasn’t blessed with a lot ofathletic ability on the baseball field, but he was a greatteammate,” Garrett said. “He never made an all-star team playingbaseball, but he’s on an all-star team today.”

The company agreed with the supervisor with several shouts ofapproval – “Hooah!”

Company 1st Sgt. Curtis Feazell, a 36-year veteran from NewHebron embarking on his third deployment, said the company’s moraleis running high. He said events like Saturday’s let his soldiersknow they are appreciated.

“It gives us good motivation,” he said. “We feel like people inthe community and town are supporting us.”

Richton’s Maj. Lee Henry, executive officer for the entire 106thBSB, said the troops are well trained, well informed and ready todeploy.

He witnessed the Southwest Mississippi soldiers’ enthusiasmrecently at a weeklong training event at Camp Shelby called a”convoy IED (improvised explosive device) lane,” meant to simulateconvoy duty.

“When we got finished on day five, our kids wanted to go backthrough it again,” Henry said. “They’re ready – they’re eager togo. We’ve got some of the most awesome kids in the military.They’ve got some unbelievable talent.”