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A day to say thanks

By Michelle G. Lyerly
For the Salisbury Post
While we are careful to acknowledge the sacrifices of our soldiers, the sacrifices of their families often go unnoticed.
The 846th Transportation Co., composed of approximately 100 drilling army reservists, held its annual family day picnic at noon Saturday.
The event is sponsored by company soldiers, Ryan’s Restaurant and the Family Readiness Group, a structured volunteer organization supplying support to reservists and families while they are deployed.
This is the commanding officers’ way of thanking the soldiers and their families.
“Everybody plays a role in the military and family members play a big role. You have to thank those people; they are making a big sacrifice,” 1st Sgt. Marvin Brooks said.
Brooks was honored with a plaque Saturday for 20-plus years of service. Brooks served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
“Really it’s a chance for soldiers to hang out with families and for us as commanders to say thanks for the dedication they (family members) give to the soldiers so they can be soldiers,” added outgoing commander Maj. Diane Struthers.
In addition, the main purpose is to “let families know how deployment mobilizations work, what to expect and the resources available” so they can be “self-reliant” once their loved ones are deployed, while realizing “they’re not alone,” explained Charlotte Family Program Coordinator Marty Burkes, who spoke with the spouses.
This gathering also functions to build camaraderie and morale among the soldiers, which incoming commander Capt. Emilio Rodriguez, native of Puerto Rico, describes as “esprit de corp. … For the soldiers to feel like they are part of the unit.”
Rodriguez will officially be installed in a September ceremony. Rodriguez’s credentials include leading a Transportation Unit in Fort Trotten, N.Y.
“It’s good; it’s a morale booster,” said PFC Joseph Nields, who brought 3-year-old son Jacob.
“It’s time for us to relax, enjoy each other’s company and our families,” added Spc. Temesha Bryant, who brought son Camden, 2.
“It’s a day we can relax and have fun without worrying about the job,” said Sgt. Becky Page, mom of Dustin, 7, and Zachary, 4.
“My kids were excited about it,” said Jessica Weaver, fiance of Staff Sgt. Michael McNeill and mother of 5-year-old twins Caleb and Avery and Jackson, 2.
Malika Williams Brooks, 9, is aware her mother, Jamie Brooks, may be deployed to Iraq. She remains scared but proud.
“Since she’s in the army she has a responsibility to her family and the people that look up to them (the soldiers),” Malika said.
Brooks was recently in Korea.
“I know sooner or later she has to go back and do some more fighting,” Malika added. “I’m just scared she might die.”
PFC Robert Bruce is proud to serve his country.
“I’m doing it because I want to protect my loved ones. As the old saying goes, ‘There’s nothing more important than the ones you love,” Bruce said.
The 846th Transportation Unit has a long history of supporting overseas operations, transporting water, fuel, food, ammunition and medical supplies among other things.
As reservists, unit members must balance military obligations with family and career.
Contact Michelle Lyerly at 704-932-3336 or mlyerly@kannapoliscitizen.com.

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