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National Guard remains at the ready

When people think of Veterans Day, they think of soldiers serving overseas, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

The National Guard Armory also serves our country in many ways as well, from local needs to being deployed overseas.

“We are the 2101 Transportation Company,” said 1st Sgt. Bill Bledsoe, who oversees the Demopolis armory. “We are on a state patrol right now, unless we get mobilized or placed in active duty. Our mission is to haul fuel: basic fuel, gasoline, JP-4 and diesel fuel No. 2, and so on.”

Bledsoe said they the National Guard is made up of volunteers who usually serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

“We’ve got about 75 people right now,” he said of the Demopolis Armory’s compliment. “This is the headquarters. We’ve got an armory in Aliceville and one in Butler. We’ve got more than 155 people in the company.”

The 2101 Transportation Company at the Demopolis armory was formed in 1999, having been moved from Camden.

Bledsoe served a tour of duty in Vietnam, and was a military police officer in Mobile in 1990 and 1991. He’s been with the company since 1983.

The National Guard has a wide variety of duties, depending on the need and location.

“We went to Slidell, La., and hauled fuel down there for about a month and a half” during Hurricane Katrina, he said.

“We were over in Iraq in 2004 and 2005,” he said. “We hauled about 2 million gallons of fuel, and we hauled several flat-bed missions, too. We hauled trucks, fuel, whatever they wanted.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer service to the Army National Guard can contact the Demopolis Armory, which has a full-time recruiter at the site.

Even though members of the National Guard are not currently deployed to Iraq, they serve a strong function here at home, and are always on the ready for the call to be deployed if needed.