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Guardsmen miss local events overseas

By Staff
WORKING HARD _ Mississippi Air National Guardsmen lay matting for a runway at a U.S. military base in an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The guardsmen, members of the 186th Civil Engineering Squadron, are from left Maj. Eric Bratu, Master Sgt. Edward Davenport, Senior Airman Jameka Moore, Master Sgt. Billy Stokes, Senior Airman Donald Moore, Sgt. William McDonald, Master Sgt. Ronald Arthur and Sgt. Henry Ruffin. Submitted photo
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
June 3, 2002
The only way Dwayne Reynolds could attend his oldest daughter's graduation from East Central Community College was by listening to it on a cell phone thousands of miles away.
If not for the help of his youngest daughter, the senior master sergeant with the Mississippi Air National Guard would have had to wait until he returned from a stint in Southwest Asia.
Reynolds and 60 other members of the 186th Civil Engineering Squadron missed other events from watching newborn children grow up to celebrating Mother's Day all while fighting the war on terrorism.
Earlier this year, they began their mission to help maintain and operate "Base X" a U.S. military base at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The job is part of "Operation Enduring Freedom."
Guardsmen maintain base
Guardsmen, who were interviewed by e-mail, said they had to learn to maintain the mobile military base which consists of soft-sided structures such as tents and shelters.
The group was first deployed Feb. 26. The men and women of the 186th left family and friends behind for more than three months and traveled more than 7,000 miles to serve the country.
During their time overseas, the group has provided such day-to-day maintenance at the U.S. base as water, power, pest management and waste utilities.
Some work all night
Some guardsmen work through the night.
The group also keeps the heating ventilation and air conditioning system running at the base, where temperatures on the desert plain can sometimes reach up to 120 degrees.
Bratu said the group realizes the work is necessary.
Guardsmen miss events
Through it all, guardsmen said they've had to cope without seeing family and not participating in major events back home.
Reynolds, 42, said that he wished he could have seen his daughter graduate from ECCC rather than just listen to it on a cell phone. He said his wife took photos and got video footage.