Fort Gordon reservist signal battalion to deploy to Iraq

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

More than 430 military reservists based at Fort Gordon are heading to Iraq at the end of the week.

This is the first ever deployment for the 324th Signal Battalion in its nearly 20-year existence.

News 12 spoke to some of the battalion's members from Augusta who acknowledged it will be hard to leave family, but it's a job that has to be done.

SGT Tracy Cotner is used to sitting at a desk behind a computer at the Richmond County Municipal Building. Now, as an Army reservist, she's trading in the desk job for combat.

"I think I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited," SGT Cotner says.

A reservist since 1999, SGT Cotner is among over 400 reservists from the 324th Signal Battalion based at Fort Gordon.

For many reservists like SGT Cotner and SSG Karen Kendrick, it's their first time being deployed.

"A little fear of the unknown," says SSG Kendrick.

Fear of roadside bombs blowing up convoys.

Reservists say not even practice convoys can prepare them for the real thing.

"There just the convoys, convoy itself is scary enough," says SGT Kenneth Dix.

"When we are at home we are in a comfort zone and we take every thing for granted because of the freedom we have," SSG Kendrick says.

"We just got to make sure we get all the paperwork done," says 1LT Matthew Braswell. "We basically just have to coordinate with Fort Hood today."

1LT Braswell is in charge of moving the battalion from Augusta to Fort Hood, Texas and then over to Iraq.

For many of the reservists, that is the hardest part: moving for a year and leaving loved ones behind.

SGT Cotner is a single mother of two: a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old.

"They understand what I have to do and what I have to go through," she says. "They have a big support group at school and at home."

"I just got married in December, so missing my wife and kids is going to be very difficult," says SGT Dix.

More than 200 members of the 324th Battalion are already in Fort Hood, Texas.

A ceremony will be held Friday for the nearly 200 reservists who will join the others at Fort Hood before leaving for Iraq.


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