By Ed Brock
In the pictures Command Sgt. Maj. James Clifford has sent home to his family, members of the Army's 52nd Ordnance Group seem to be making the best of having to wear chemical protective gear on the job in Kuwait.
They wave at the camera when they aren't too busy, they look up briefly from computers and paperwork or they concentrate on unloading heavy equipment from cargo planes.
And they write home to their families about how much they miss them.
"(Clifford) said he's really proud of his people," said Marian Minugh of McDonough, Clifford's daughter. "Most of them haven't been in that kind of environment before but you would think that they've been there their whole lives, he said."
"There" is Camp Doho just outside Kuwait City where the 52nd, based at Fort Gillem in Forest Park, is coordinating with other Explosive Ordnance Disposal units for a mission that will probably continue long after the war is through.
"I would imagine they would be over there for a while," said Jack Coffey, a spokesman for Forces Command at Fort McPherson in Atlanta. "Look at Afghanistan where they still find those weapons caches."
The 52nd's job is to dispose of those caches, including chemical, nuclear or biological weapons if those are encountered.
That mission is certainly dangerous, but the fact that they are behind the lines at the moment does comfort Stephanie Edmondson. Edmondson had been married to 52nd member Spc. Joseph Edmondson for just a couple of months before the unit was sent overseas.
"I've been talking to him by e-mail," Stephanie Edmondson said. "He can't really say a lot ? he just says it's hard to get enough sleep with all the missile alarms going off."
Edmondson is staying with her family in Harlington, Texas for now but plans to return to Stockbridge this summer to stay with friends. She hasn't heard when or if her husband or other members of the unit will be able to come home on leave.
Minugh said some of the members of the 52nd left behind pregnant wives or young children who will be completely different when their mothers or fathers return.