Families somber as 186th members leave for war
LEAVING HOME Maj. Gen. James H. Lipscomb III, commander of the Mississippi National Guard, speaks Tuesday with Stacy Massey, wife of Tech. Sgt. John Massey, her son, Dalton, 4, and her mother, Sue Harwell, as Massey, a boom operator with the 186th Air Refueling Wing, was deployed for the fourth time. Massey, of Neshoba County, was called at 8 p.m. the night before and told he had to leave in the morning. "I worry more this time," Stacy Massey said as she talked about how her husband would be closer to bombing. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
March 19, 2003
A tearful Robyn Hancock stood from a second-floor observation deck Tuesday as her husband, Master Sgt. Aubrey Glenn Hancock, prepared to leave Key Field with fellow soldiers of the 186th Air Refueling Wing.
It marked the fourth time her husband has shipped out with the 186th since 9-11. This time her husband headed for an undisclosed location outside the United States as the nation braced for war.
The commander of the Mississippi National Guard, Maj. Gen. James H. Lipscomb III, was on hand Tuesday to see the soldiers off and meet with their families.
Lipscomb said four refueling tankers, along with a half-dozen crews and support personnel, left Tuesday to support Operation Enduring Freedom. Thirty-four people shipped out.
Lipscomb acknowledged the situation does give him a lump in his throat.
Minutes later, 186th officials took reporters and photographers to one of the awaiting aircraft, where Aubrey Glenn Hancock stood at a huge open door and waved a small American flag.
Hancock, 50, has been serving in the Guard since age 17. He said the bottom line is that the president has issued the call and that the Iraqis should have the chance to choose their leader.
Asked about war protesters who have filled streets in nations across the world, Hancock said: "I'm an American and I love my country. And if other countries want to protest, then that's up to them."
But Hancock smiled and said one thing's certain: The Iraqis don't have the privilege of protesting against war.
As Hancock finished answering questions, Lipscomb approached and gave him a special Mississippi National Guard coin for good luck.
Still, the moment was difficult for relatives of other guardsmen who were at the observation deck of Key Field to see their loved ones off.
Joe Way and his wife, Ginger, both of Newton, were waiting for their 25-year-old son, Jake, a crew chief, to leave for the third time since 9-11.
Ginger Way said she was scared for her son, but she said that the Lord is watching over him.