11/30/04 — Families of deployed Guardsmen get dinner, support, companionship

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Families of deployed Guardsmen get dinner, support, companionship

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on November 30, 2004 2:02 PM

Families who are left behind while soldiers are deployed to Iraq will gather to support each other and share their thoughts on Saturday.

The 230th Support Battalion Family Assistance Center in Goldsboro is sponsoring a dinner at noon at the National Guard Armory at 700 U.S. 117 S. Bypass. It is for the spouses and children of soldiers in the battalion, which is part of the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade.

Two of the battalion's units, the Charlie Medical Co. and the Headquarters Company, are based in Goldsboro. More than 250 soldiers combined from these two units deployed to Iraq in February.

Around 100 people are expected to attend the lun cheon, including some soldiers who are manning the units while the others are deployed.

The assistance center is in place to support the soldiers of the 230th when they are deployed and help their families at home. It helps organize pot luck meals, movie nights and monthly meetings for the families to share stories about their deployed children and siblings. They have also organized taking pictures of the families and placing them on pillowcases to send to the soldiers.

"They have been very supportive of the families," said Zina Carr, whose son, Specialist Gregory B. Carr, is a medic in the 230th.

The 5,000-member brigade, which was ordered to active duty on Oct. 1, 2003, is based in Clinton and has armories from Wilmington to Charlotte. It also includes soldiers from other states.

The brigade has been responsible for security and other duties in an area northeast of Baghdad. It was the largest call-up of N.C. National Guard soldiers since World War II, and the brigade was the first full National Guard combat brigade activated and deployed for service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

They had three weeks of training in June 2003 in over 110-degree heat at the National Training Center in the Mojave Desert at Fort Irwin, Calif. They left for Fort Bragg that October and went through a federal mobilization process in November. They then traveled to Fort Polk in Louisiana to go through a rehearsal exercise. They returned to Fort Bragg to make final preparations to deploy.

Brigade soldiers hope to be back home at the beginning of January. A replacement unit for the brigade has already started to arrive in Iraq.

Mrs. Carr said turkeys are being donated by Carolina Turkey and pickles are being donated by Mt. Olive Pickle for the event. The center will also have traditional things like stuffing and gravy, potato salad, baked spaghetti, collard greens, pastries, apple cider and tea.

Jerry Strickland, a musician in Jones Grove Pentecostal Holiness Church in Mount Olive, will be playing guitar during the event. Other members of the church, including Greg Carr, father of Specialist Carr, and Ernest Whitman, a Vietnam veteran, will be preparing the turkeys. Santa Claus will be stopping by for some pictures and The VFW Women's Auxiliary is making fruit bags for the families to take home.

"We are looking forward to supporting each other in the absence of our loved ones," said Mrs. Carr.