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franklin county times

Gone for the holidays: Guardsmen head overseas

By Staff
SECOND DEPLOYMENT Jimmy Don Heathcock packs his gear Tuesday as he prepares for his second trip overseas to fight the war on terrorism. Heathcock, a senior airman with the Mississippi Air National Guard's 186th Air Refueling Wing, is one of 13 guardsmen deployed today on active duty. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Dec. 11, 2002
Jimmy Don and Brandi Heathcock will celebrate their first Christmas "together" as a married couple with a 15-minute telephone call he will make from thousands of miles away.
Jimmy Don, who turned 21 Saturday and married Brandi in August, left Meridian's Key Field on a bus early today headed for a three-month stint overseas fighting in the war on terrorism.
The next time he hears his wife will be during one of two 15-minute phone conversations he will be allowed every week he is stationed overseas.
Jimmy Don is one of 13 members of the Mississippi Air National Guard's 186th Air Refueling Wing who left Meridian today 14 days before Christmas. Their final destination: An undisclosed location overseas.
Lt. Col. Randy Pope, a spokesman for the 186th, said the security forces group will be making its second trip overseas.
Pope said the security group's main function overseas will be to provide air base security, provide aircraft security and also perform law enforcement-type duties.
The group's bus left Key Field at 5:30 a.m. and headed for Jackson. From there, Pope said, the group was expected to meet up with other guardsmen and jump aboard a military flight overseas,
The group is one of three, 13-man security forces from Meridian that rotate trips overseas.
Jimmy Don spent Tuesday running errands and spending as much time as possible with his wife. A few scattered presents remained under the Heathcocks' Christmas tree.