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Guard on alert for mobilization

By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
They knew it was coming, mobilization, that is. Members of the 711 Signal Battalion of the National Guard had been hearing rumors of mobilization for months, but there was nothing official behind the scuttlebutt.
Even as recently as during training at Camp Shelby Miss., at the end of October, Co. A was not sure when it would get the word.
"We aren't 100 percent sure when we will ship out," Lonnie Walls, a corrections officer at Holman Corrections facility, said that day. "But when we go, we have a job to do."
The answer came Thursday to Walls and the other members of the battalion.
"The 711 was alerted Nov. 6 for possible duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom," Sgt. David Carney, public affairs officer for the 142 Signal Brigade, said.
The brigade includes all three signal battalions in Alabama, the 711, headquartered in Mobile, the 115, headquartered in Florence, and 279, headquartered in Huntsville. They are considered sister units.
Carney said that this is only an alert, and it could change, but that is unlikely.
"Company A is one of the best companies in the 711," said Maj. Daniel Barnett, the battalion's executive officer and former company commander. "Atmore has always been a go-to company when you have something to get done."
Small comfort to the members of the company and their families, who are faced with the knowledge that their loved ones could be sent overseas, even before the holidays.
The notification came with knowledge that the mobilization will not be sooner than 30 days. That would make roll out no sooner than the first week in December.
That is not lost on Carney. He had just completed planning a send-off ceremony for the company out of Guntersville and is now in the planning stages of a similar event for the Atmore company.
Company A is a corps area signal unit, used to send and retrieve voice and data communications signals.
"A mobile telephone company," Walls had joked in Mississippi.
It may be that soon talking to the members of Co. A will all be done by long distance.