Rolling Fork Guard headed to Afghanistan

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2005

[1/21/05]ROLLING FORK At least one family won’t be completely separated when Rolling Fork’s National Guardsmen are deployed to Afghanistan on Monday.

Sharkey County Sheriff Lindsey Adams Jr. and his son, Lindsey Adams III, are among the 35 soldiers in Detachment 1 of the 114th Field Artillery Battalion of the Mississippi Army National Guard.

More than 200 people came to the armory here to wish the troops well during a “meet the soldiers” program Thursday night.

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Sharkey County citizens would like to keep one soldier in particular, but as of Thursday night, it looked unlikely that their sheriff would be allowed to stay.

Sharkey County officials said they wrote letters to Gov. Haley Barbour requesting an exemption for their chief law enforcement officer, but have not received a reply. For now, he is preparing to leave.

Adams said Chief Deputy Stanley Coleman will run the department until the 18-month deployment ends.

“I think they’ll be OK as far as (long-running) cases. We’ve got everything under control,” he said.

The detachment, along with other units in Greenwood, Winona, Drew, Yazoo City and Water Valley, will first head to Grenada to finish paperwork and other logistics, commanding officer Lt. Jimmy Potts said.

Potts, a 35-year-old Army Corps of Engineers employee from Batesville, said the 300-member battalion will then travel to Fort Dix in New Jersey for 77 days of training. The men will then head to an unknown location in Afghanistan where they will guard convoys, among other duties, Potts said.

Some members of the unit were called up during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. However, the war was over before the unit finished training in the United States. As Sgt. Vernon Jones said, “We’ll get to cross the water this time.”

Jones, who turns 46 on Wednesday, is one of the unit’s most experienced soldiers with 27 years of service. The Hollandale native and grocery store employee is one example of the diverse backgrounds within the unit.

Jones will serve alongside men who are welders, college students and, in the case of Staff Sgt. Donald Coleman, a high school principal.

Coleman, who turns 38 on Wednesday, leads O’Bannon High School in Greenville.

Families are nervous, said Coleman, who will leave behind his wife, son and parents to serve.

“It’s a high level of anxiety. You don’t know what to expect except for what you see on the news and what little you get in a briefing,” Coleman said.

Staff Sgt. Curtis Stanford, a 39-year-old recycling company employee who lives in Carrollton, echoed what many soldiers said: “I hate to leave my family, but I’m willing to serve my country.

Sheriff Adams, a sergeant, is excited about being deployed with his son, a specialist.

“I think if any man could go to war with his son, they’d have a good feeling about it,” said the elder Adams, who will turn 40 on Thursday.

The younger Adams, a 19-year-old sophomore studying accounting at Jackson State University, said his father inspired him to enlist.

“I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” he said.

He thinks his dad is needed more at home, though.

“It’s exciting in its own way, but I’d rather him stay behind with the family,” Spc. Lindsey Adams III said.

Spc. Derrick Jones, a 23-year-old senior studying information systems at Delta State University, said the unit feels confident about its ability to perform. Like his fellow soldiers, the Rolling Fork native was not excited about being away from home for so long. However, in what proved to be the most common sentiment of the night, he said, “You got to do what you got to do.”