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franklin county times

Meridian's connection to the war in Bosnia

By Staff
Aug. 27, 2001
An outstanding story by staff writer Sheila Blackmon in The Meridian Star last Thursday brought home very clearly why we need to pay attention to the ongoing conflict in Bosnia.
The person profiled for the story was Sgt. Winston Walker, but his story is similar to those of several men from the Mississippi Army National Guard's 150th Combat Engineers who are on their way to one of the earth's most troubled spots. They met up with other troops in McComb, then headed to Ft. Benning, Ga., for some last minute training and, from there, to Bosnia.
It is impossible to simplify the chaos in Bosnia, but it is fueled by religious hatred between Christian Croats and Serbs and Muslim Bosnians. U.S. troops have led peace-keeping missions in the American sector of Bosnia since the war officially ended in the mid-1990s.
Walker will be in Bosnia for eight months. He is a volunteer soldier and will do his duty. In the meantime, his family, including his wife and two young children, will be here awaiting his return.
Walker's tour will mark the first time since the U.S. mission began that National Guard troops will outnumber Army troops in Bosnia. While the troops are trained well to minimize risks, Walker said the mission is a serious one and troops will be fully armed.
Americans have never shirked from their duties, be they in wartime or peacetime. This, technically, is a peace-keeping mission, but it takes place in a region where unrest is the norm.
Our prayers go with Walker and his fellow soldiers as they embark on this mission. While the conflict may be in Bosnia, many of the people facing danger come from places like Meridian and McComb. And that's why we all must remain concerned.