Guard’s Iraq trip delayed… sort of

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The 200th Engineer Battalion out of Linden got a blessing in disguise, as they were able to spend one more day with their families. A small transportation problem delayed the unit’s deployment for a day giving them one more chance to spend time with their loved ones.

The unit was given a sendoff Monday at Linden Baptist Church and expected to leave shortly thereafter. However, the unit received word at the church their trip would be delayed for a few hours.

Staff Sgt. Ruby Vickers delivered the news.

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“God is looking out for us,” Vickers said. “Our trip has been delayed for a little while.”

The short delay turned into overnight giving the troops a little more time with their families.

Lt. Col. Bob Horton, with the Alabama National Guard Headquarters in Montgomery, said the delay was simply a glitch in the planning process through the transportation company.

“The problem was that the chartering of the busses by the Army to transport them did not go through,” Horton said. “The request just did not get processed to get the buses to them on time.”

Horton said once the request was put through the problem was solved quickly.

“The Army National Guard just went ahead with the request and got things in order quickly,” Horton said. “They got the request processed and the buses arrived at about 6:45 a.m. It was just a glitch in the process.”

Once the buses arrived the unit loaded quickly and were on the road by 7 a.m.

Horton said the delay was good news for the families who were able to spend more time with the soldiers before they deployed.

“I am sure this was good news for the families,” Horton said. “They were all able to spend a little more time together.”

Horton said the delay would not affect training in any way.

Virgil Gray, who works with the Family Assistance Center closely tied to the guard, said the families of the troops clearly had no problem with the delay.

“I think the families were very happy,” Gray said. “They got one more night with their loved ones. It was really a blessing.”

The 200th is expected to be deployed from 12 to 18 months, but it is possible they could stay longer. The possibility of such a long separation made the extra day even more special.

The official destination of the unit is still unknown.