Vol. 17, No. 24 Dec. 2 - 15, 2004


Guard Unit Bound For Iraq from Armory


Nearly 200 soldiers from the 145th Maintenance Company of the Army National Guard, based out of the Kingsbridge Armory, said their goodbyes on Nov. 19, and will shortly be headed for an unknown destination in Iraq.

The soldiers began gathering on West Kingsbridge Road around 7 a.m., and spent the day packing and moving gear as they prepared for their journey to the U.S. supply line that keeps the troops armed and fed during wartime. Members of the 145th will fix weapons, equipment and vehicles in the war zone.

Staff Sergeant Christopher Perkins, 31, a Belmont resident whose mother still resides on Hull Avenue where he grew up, said shortly before departing, “I went to South Carolina for basic training, but this is the first time I'm going to war.”

”I want it over with,” Perkins said. “It’s been hanging over my head for over a year, so I knew it was coming. I just want to go and come back and get on with my life.”

Perkins spent his last evening of semi-civilian life downloading music for his MP3 player and chatting with friends on the Internet. Perkins expects to be gone for 18 months.

Others talked of the abrupt change to their daily lives. 

“I’m just going to miss my family, my wife and kids,” said PFC Eddie Figueroa before getting on a bus that would take him to a military base upstate. He and his fellow Guardsmen are already in Georgia for training and they are expected to ship out to Iraq sometime in January. 

Specialist Reginald Atkins of Brooklyn was recently transferred from Manhattan’s 1569th. “I only had a couple of days’ notice,” he said. Atkins called home on his cell phone. “I just wanted to let them know I’m OK, and to say goodbye.”

For Atkins, it will be his first trip to a desert, but he said, “I’m just going to take it day by day.” Atkins had been in the Air Force before joining the Army National Guard.

Specialist Marcia Martines wasn’t shipping out, but made the trip to the armory to say goodbye to her husband, Joseph, who was heading for his second tour in Iraq, and her friend, Specialist Bernadette Barrios.

“I'll stay home with the kids, but I'll miss my husband,” Martines said. “The kids are not taking this well. I just hope they all come back safe.”

Ed. note: Sergeant Perkins and members of his unit have agreed to write back to the Norwood News whenever possible, to share their views and experiences with our readers.

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