Louisiana needed only seven of the 50 Maryland National Guardsmen deployed there earlier this month to help in the relief and recovery effort following Hurricane Gustav.
All seven were volunteers and stayed behind to join the Louisiana Guard’s aviation command in Baton Rouge, while the others flew back to Maryland.
The Examiner spoke with Spec. Timickia Pringle, 25, of Glen Burnie, at Esler Field Air Base in Alexandria, La., who went to Baton Rouge.
Why did you choose to stay behind?
Honest answer? I wanted to help. I wanted to use myself for a purpose. I’m here; I might as well do something good. ... Handling airfield operations and helping control flight plans.
Have you ever been deployed before?
Yes, to Iraq and Kosovo, though I was with the Mississippi National Guard.
How do you adjust to being deployed for 12 to 18 months at a time?
You never adjust; you just cope. I’m on the telephone a lot, and I’m text messaging all the time. I want to know how my family is doing, especially my 10-year-old daughter.
How does your daughter cope with deployments?
In some ways she does, but in others she doesn’t. I think it has messed up her schooling, set her back a little. It’s hard to get her the help she needs, but we talk about what I do, and we stay in constant contact.
If you have a child, why do you continue to be a member of the National Guard?
As a young mother with a child, it’s a good way to support my family. It does keep me away from home, but the benefits the Guard provides make up for it. I want to provide for my family, and I want to serve.