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Grandmother is family's first woman at war

By Justin Boron

This grandma's got grit.

Sgt. Jamye Sanders, a "tough-skinned" 49-year-old mother of two, is at war in Iraq where she is assigned to clinical services, which treats wounded soldiers, civilians, and insurgents.

The oldest female in her company and grandmother to her daughter's child, her comrades call her "Mamma Sanders."

The nickname came out of chiding from other soldiers who found out that she was a grandmother.

"When some of the soldiers found out that I had a granddaughter and I didn't want to be called granny but Mamma J, they started calling me Mamma Sanders," she said.

Following in the footsteps of her father, a World War II veteran, Sanders is the first woman in her family to serve in a war.

"It makes me proud . . . that God chose me and I accepted the call to serve in this capacity," she said.

After she returns home to Morrow, Sanders will go back to her normal job as administrative assistant to the Dean of Health at Clayton State University.

Leigh Duncan, a community relations specialist at the university, met with Sanders on her most recent leave of absence and was in awe of her courage.

"She is just incredible," she said. "How can you be so excited about going to war?"

Sanders said she misses her job and walks around the campus' lake.

But leaving it to get knee-deep into the dangers of the Iraqi war wasn't the painful experience one would expect.

When her boss called here into his office, he told her he had good and bad news.

"I told him to just spill it out," she said. "I sat there for a moment with the initial shock and then began to thank God for choosing me for such a mission."

Notifying her family also was not too trying a task.

"I called my son (Rashad), and we initially went out to celebrate the assignment," she said.

Since she left for Iraq, days without calls home have been few and far between.

"I call Rashad every Saturday morning. I'm his wake up call," she said. "I call my daughter Jamella every other night."

Jamella, 21, is mother to Sanders 18-month old granddaughter Alexis.

The desert heat and dust storms provide for a little bit different weather than the climate in Clayton County, she said. But the culture is on par with the diversity here.

"(There is) no difference in people," Sanders said. "Many nations are represented here, the same as in Clayton County."

While Sanders is eager to tell of the comforts provided in Iraq, she also said she misses things like "not carrying a weapon daily" or driving a car.

To stay motivated, Sanders sings the Gospel song "Great is Thy Faithfulness."

"Because I love to sing, that keeps my enthusiasm intact and being able to meet new people means a lot to me."