By Ed Brock
For the family of Sgt. Bobby Walker of the Army Reserve 427th Medical Battalion, Thursday's ceremony for the battalion's mobilization probably would have been too much.
"We said our goodbyes yesterday," said Walker of Riverdale, talking about his wife and two children. "They held together for a while but I guess the more conversation we had, I guess it got to them."
The 427th's Detachments 5 and 6 have been called to active duty in Noble Eagle, part of the domestic Homeland Defense program, and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Detachment 4 will be mobilized on July 19 but Thursday's ceremony at Fort Gillem in Forest Park was for the approximately 35 soldiers in all three detachments.
They were sent off for training at Fort Stewart in Georgia and Fort McCoy in Wisconsin with gospel music from the Travelers Rest Baptist Church of Morrow's choir and speeches from local officials and Army brass.
"These young men and women know the passage ahead of them, they know what they've been called to do and they're going to go do it," Forest Park Mayor Chuck Hall said.
But none of them know the details of their assignment yet, where they will go exactly and exactly how long they'll be gone.
Some of them, like Walker's second in command Sgt. Anthony Jones of College Park, know what awaits them when they return.
"We're going to have a party when you come back," Jones' friend Tarel DeCosta of Stone Mountain told him.
Jones' family lives in Virginia, he said, and he's single. He's ready to go on the deployment, but there are some things he'll miss.
"My civilian clothes," Jones said. "And my DJ equipment."
Jones served in Korea while on active duty with the Army and Walker served in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm.
"It's part of my job," Walker said. "I've been in this for 17 years so it's nothing new to me."
In April 10 other members of the 427th were mobilized for the same operations.
The 427th provides medical logistical support such as sending supplies to forward hospitals.