ROCKINGHAM — Some of America’s citizen soldiers hone their skills here in Richmond County, and this week, they’re hard at work at the 881st Engineering Support Company, headquartered at the National Guard Armory on Rockingham Road.
The N.C. Army National Guard company is currently in summer training, investing time and finely honed skills to update its motor pool.
In civilian terms, that means checking and double-checking all of the military equipment for which the company is responsible. The impressive array of camouflaged vehicles in the armory parking lot needs maintenance in order to ensure every part is in working order so they can be quickly deployed and reliable in combat.
With speculation of potential United States involvement in Iraq again inundating news networks, the idea of sending more troops to the Middle East seems wearisome to some analysts. President Barack Obama announced Monday that 275 military personnel would be sent to Iraq for embassy security, and reports indicate that more troops could follow.
1st Lt. A. Sika of the 881st was unable to comment on those reports and dutifully declined to make assumptions or reveal personal opinions on the matter.
“I’m not able to speak on those issues,” Sika said. “When I speak, I am speaking on behalf of the corps. I’m not authorized to do that at this time.”
Talking about the company’s motor pool updates and his passion for helping others through his service to the National Guard is an entirely different case.
“I was born in North Carolina and have lived in Cary and elsewhere,” Sika said. “Being able to work with people who share and have complimentary skills is rewarding.”
1st Lt. R. Warner explained some of what is involved in joining the National Guard, and how soldiers get stationed where they do.
“You get to pick your MOS (military occupational specialty.) Mine’s engineering, and the engineering units in North Carolina are in Laurinburg, Rockingham and Raeford,” Warner said. “It’s great because you have so many people coming from eclectic backgrounds and they all have different skill sets. So we’re pretty flexible, it breaks up the monotony of everyday life.”
2nd Lt. J. Towe said he used to be enlisted, and he enjoys being commissioned now and being with all the soldiers. He said the camaraderie is something he appreciates more as time goes by. Joining the Army National Guard is one of the best choices he’s ever made, he said.
“We get people from all walks of life,” Sika said. “And we’re constantly helping the community with all sorts of problems. My civilian skill set may be able to help some of them out, and theirs helps me. Camaraderie is a good word to use to describe it.”
Reach reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-997-3111, ext. 15.