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Monday, May 2, 2016

Brazil Guardsmen on duty

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Spc. Amber Hays (front, left) from Indianapolis, attached to the 38th battalion out of Brazil, prepares to qualify zeroing her weapon. Hays said to zero, the soldiers must shoot six holes in a 4-inch diameter circle from 25 meters. Lynn Hamilton photo

Part 1 of 2

The Indiana National Guard is proud and ready. Camp Atterbury, near Indianapolis, one of just four National Guard mobilization sites in the country, was the only one activated to mobilize troops for Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Indiana National Guard unit out of Brazil is assisting in the global war on terrorism. Recently nine members, all truck drivers, of the 38th main support battalion of the Brazil transportation unit, were attached to Company A of the 113th support battalion from Muncie. Five soldiers from Company B Det. 1, out of Stout Field in Indianapolis, were attached to the Brazil 38th. Those 14 troops, along with the rest of the 113th, were sent to Camp Atterbury for mobilization.

The Brazil guardsmen and women left Brazil March 30, going to Stout Field. They arrived at Camp Atterbury April 9. They will be ready for deployment after completing training and are validated which could take approximately 20 to 30 days. The troops won't know when or where they're going until several days before they are deployed.

The Brazil Times was allowed to tour the camp grounds. We observed the camp and visited with some of the troops as they prepared for their deployment.

It was sunny, warm and windy April 16, as we entered the camp. The 33,000 acre military facility was greening up on this beautiful spring morning. A few song birds could be heard and a little brown puppy purposely trotted across the front grounds close to the nearly empty roadway.

Just inside the guarded gate, after clearing security check, we parked by the silver railroad passenger car used as a gift shop for the soldiers, which is open 1 to 4 p.m. three days a week. While waiting for our escort, Public Affairs Officer Major Chris Pfaff, we glanced around the military world we'd just entered into.

The main sounds were engines in the distance and automobiles increasingly coming into the base. An occasional far off beeping told us some vehicle was backing up.

The camp has the capability of housing 5,000 troops. On this day there were approximately 2,400 deploying troops and about 600 full-time Atterbury staff.

The sameness of the beige cinder block, brown roofed buildings made it difficult to distinguish the barracks, administration offices, fitness center and chow hall from one another.

Although bland, the camp had a rather serene appearance which sharply contrasted with its purpose of training soldiers for war.

As we were guided around the facilities by the friendly yet professional Major Pfaff, activity quickly increased. Soldiers were issued supplies, gear and guns to start a new day of preparation.

Training troops have to be validated on a multitude of tasks. Some were qualifying on weapons. The sounds of gunfire intensified as we approached the firing ranges. One soldier said she had to qualify zeroing on her weapon which meant she had to shoot six holes in a four inch diameter circle.

Survival training included the proper way to wear masks. Each soldier must know how all of his or her equipment works and they must show that they know how to use it.

Even knowing that females are a part of the modern military, it was still a surprise to see so many ladies wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying guns. Their obvious knowledge and enthusiasm quickly dispelled any concern as to their ability to carry out their duties.

It was hard for a civilian to comprehend the enormity of the administrative effort necessary to maneuver massive amounts of equipment needed to support a war effort.

There were rows and rows of massive military equipment which would eventually be shipped to a destination with deployed troops. Graders, generators, light sets, Humvees, 5-ton trucks, dump trucks, fuel trucks and fork lift trucks were just some of the machinery to be transported out of Camp Atterbury.

Tomorrow: Talking with the troops.

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