Calera guard on alert

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Calera’s Army National Guard unit has been called to active duty to help fight the war on the terrorism here in the homeland.

It was a year ago today, Sept. 11, 2001, that terrorists flew two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, a third plane into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a fourth plane was crashed by heroic passengers to prevent another air attack.

Following those attacks, the United States declared war on terrorism.

Last Friday,

Calera’s 35-member M1A1 Tank unit

shared tearful farewells with loved ones as it departed for Fort Rucker in support of that war on terrorism and to provide homeland security.

The Calera unit, while officially designated as Det. 1 of Troop E, 31st Cavalry in Sylacauga, has been training with Company A, 1st Battalion 131st Armor in Centre and will serve under the flag of that armor battalion during Operation Noble Eagle.

The mission of the Calera unit will be to provide homeland security at an installation somewhere inside the continental United States.

Maj. David Ward of the 131st Armor Brigade

said, &uot;The unit out of Calera is being deployed as part of the war on terrorism to provide homeland security protection to a key installation in the continental United States.&uot;

He said the unit will remain the United States and could remain activated up to two years.

Ward said the men of the Calera unit will serve on passive guard duty but will provide active response should the installation they are charged to protect be attacked.

Ward said the M1A1 Tank, which is the vehicle of the Calera unit, is an ideal platform for such a mission.

Prior to moving out for final goodbyes, Ward addressed the men inside the Calera armory.

&uot;We’re here today because we are at war. Our nation has been attacked. We were attacked because we are a beacon of freedom,&uot; he said.

&uot;Your role is absolutely critical … Don’t let anyone kid you. You are truly the best citizens of the United States, and you epitomize what is great about America.&uot;

Prior to leaving, the men enjoyed family support night at the armory. Desserts were provided by Shiloh Methodist Church, Calera Baptist Church, Concord Baptist Church, Calera First United Methodist Church, 16th Street Baptist Church, Wal-Mart SuperCenter and Family Dollar.

The event was emceed by Tommie Lynn Morrison of the Calera City Council and the Calera Chamber of Commerce.

Calera Mayor George Roy welcomed the men, and the Rev. Darryl Nichols, pastor of Concord Baptist brought the opening prayer.

Music was provided by Concord Baptist, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and Evangel Worship Center.

Melissa Williams of Evangel signed to the music of &uot;God Bless the USA,&uot; a song made famous by Lee Greenwood.

The closing prayer was brought by the Rev. Mark Sickmiller, pastor of Northside Baptist Church.

Also on the program were Ron Martin, pastor of Harvest Chapel and the Rev. Shack, pastor of First Baptist Church.

Sgt. Terry White of the Calera National Guard unit said, &uot;I appreciate everything the city, the chamber of commerce and the churches did for us. We appreciate the desserts and the great send-off.&uot;