Seven from 412th Command headed to Germany|[2/28/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

Maj. Theo Williams of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 412th Engineer Command has served his country overseas before, and he’s ready to go again today.

Williams, 50, of Vicksburg, is one of seven from the local reserve command who were to leave today for Heidelberg, Germany, for an 18-month deployment.

The soldiers were honored at a mobilization farewell ceremony Sunday afternoon at the 412th’s headquarters building off Porters Chapel Road.

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Williams, who is the only one of the seven who lives in the Vicksburg area, said his previous overseas deployment was to the Balkans in 1998.

“We’re prepared,” said Williams, whose wife, Josie, was with him for the afternoon of orientation and farewell activities. “I guess since this is the second time, we’re not so tense.”

The Williamses have one child, a daughter who attends Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn.

Williams also has a sister who lives in Vicksburg and a brother who lives in North Carolina, he added.

As a civilian, Williams works as a quality-control chemist at Terra Corp.’s Yazoo City operation, formerly Mississippi Chemical.

He graduated from Vicksburg High School and Jackson State University and received a master’s degree in business administration from Millsaps College. In the Reserve, he is a comptroller for his unit.

Williams said he was notified last month of the possibility that he would be called to active duty. He attends St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, and members of his church had sent him off with a bag full of telephone cards, including one with 800 minutes, so he can call home, he added.

He and the other six soldiers who were to leave today will serve as the deputy chief of staff for engineering functions of the U.S. Army in Europe. They are rotating into the positions of active-duty soldiers from the Army’s 18th Engineer Brigade who are leaving for Afghanistan, said Col. Larry Copelin, senior officer at the 412th on Sunday.

The European command where the soldiers will work is responsible for the continent of Europe and about two-thirds of Africa, Copelin said.

The soldiers will help handle both the Army’s ongoing transformation in Europe and free other resources to be shifted to its Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East region that includes Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which have been invaded by a coalition led by the United States.

“In 2003 we went over and did the same thing,” Copelin said.

The other six soldiers who are to deploy today are Spc. Antonio Bennett of Madison; Maj. William Compton of Toney, Ala.; Master Sgt. Ronnie Garrard of Pinson, Ala.; Staff Sgt. Timothy Lovato of Clinton; Maj. Larry Marshall of Monroe, La.; and Staff Sgt. Rufus Sampson of Jackson.