Weekend Warriors: Part I

Members of the Guard say there's a reason why they've been around for so long, and despite recent setbacks, the weekend warriors say they will remain. For centuries, the National Guard has been making the difference by making up the difference when duty calls.

"The National Guard has two missions: We have a federal mission where we supplement the active duty forces. We have a state mission, we go where the governor needs us. The National Guard dates back further than the Army Reserves," says MAJ Dan Mahnke.

Guardsmen are famously known as weekend warriors. Weekends where they train hard, to be prepared for just about anything, in just about any field.

"During the weekend, there are several drills, mandatory briefings, physical fitness tests and training," says MSG Jack Hendrix.

But for the better part of the last year, thousands of Florida National Guardsmen have gone beyond that weekend call of duty, into active duty, fighting against terrorism.

Guardsmen say it's taken a toll, "It's been a very tough year. When you join the Guard, it's always in the back of your mind that you're going to be mobilized. No soldier wishes for war, but we do what we're told. We train for it, but never really expect it when you get that call, you just go and do it."

The Florida Guard says it's looking at lower recruitment numbers this year from last. Could that have been caused by the war against terrorism?

"Part of it could be. Another reason could be we have what's called an “ends strength.” That's the number of people we're allowed to have and we are currently above that by more than 200."

Basically in civilian terms, the Florida Guard is over quota. Despite the frustration and fears facing the National Guard, those who wear the uniform say, there are no regrets.

This is not the first time that Guardsmen have been called up. They've actually been involved in every war in which America has fought. There was even a time, when there were more guardsmen than active army personnel. Recruiters say the main enticement is 100 percent pay back for college loans. They say others join for patriotic reasons.


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