114th prepares for duty

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2002

Sgt. Michael Mathews with the 114th Military Police of the Mississippi National Guard helps unload tarps from a truck inside the Mississippi National Guard Armory in Clinton Friday. Mathews moved back to Vicksburg in December after being called to duty.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[01/05/02]When terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, Sgt. Michael Mathews said it was his duty to rejoin the Mississippi National Guard company he had served with in Germany during operations in Bosnia in 1996.

“There are several people who signed back up after Sept. 11,” said Mathews, a Vicksburg native. “Every generation has to do their duty.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Mathews is one of about 135 guardsmen with the 114th Military Police called to active duty under a partial mobilization order from the White House. The company, based in Clinton, will be headed to Fort Campbell, Ky., next week to replace a military police company there.

Members of the company are preparing to be gone for at least a year and spent Friday doing paperwork and inventories. The exact number of soldiers from Vicksburg being activated was not available.

Mathews and his wife had moved to Mobile, Ala., after graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1999, but returned to Vicksburg after the unit was activated. He said it was no surprise when the call came on Dec. 27.

“We kind of knew it was coming,” Mathews said. “When they called on the 27th we just packed up.”

Mathews was not the only one who rejoined the unit after Sept. 11. Spc. Edward Herring, a telephone repairman in Vicksburg, said he signed up in December to go with the unit to Kentucky.

“They needed some people,” Herring said.

Herring had served six years with the Guard including nine months in Germany in 1996. Like six years ago, the company will provide security for the military installation in Kentucky, replacing military police there who are being deployed elsewhere.

In 1990, the unit had also been deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm.

But not all of the members of the 114th have experienced being away from home for such a long time before.

Pvt. Michael Brent, a security guard at a local casino, has been in the National Guard for two years. This will be his first deployment with the unit.

“This is something I’ve been training to do,” Brent said. “I’ve got to do my duty.”

Like the other soldiers preparing to leave, Brent said the hardest part would be the family members he would have to leave behind.

“My wife doesn’t want me to go,” said Brent, who wed in April.

Some Mississippi Guardsmen across the state have been on duty since Oct. 5 manning checkpoints at airports in Jackson, Tupelo, Columbus, Hattiesburg-Laurel, Gulfport, Meridian and Greenville.

The Guard also provided extra security at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station for about a month during October and November. The Guard left the power plant around Thanksgiving.