1165th sent to Gulfport
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Some members of the 1165th Military Police unit based in Brewton have been called to assist in the disaster relief effort going on along the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Sgt. Frank Barnes, who is the company's readiness NCO, said on Thursday, Sept. 1, that the unit had been placed on a warning order for possible deployment to the Mississippi Gulf Coast or to Louisiana.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, that warning order became a deployment order for a squad, consisting of three teams of three men, to be sent to Gulfport, Miss. That afternoon, the orders were amended for the squad to report to the National Guard Armory to be ready to leave Brewton at 6:30 p.m. They were to travel to Fairhope where they would board a bus departing for Gulfport.
The men chosen for this mission consist mostly of veterans of the Iraqi War, two of whom won Purple Hearts, along with two fairly new members. They are Staff Sgt. Anthony J. Pierce, squad leader; Sgt. David B. Austin, team leader of Mobile; Sgt. James H. McCurdy, team leader; Specialists Charles T. Williams of East Brewton, Lance A. McCurdy of East Brewton, Chester Tolbert of Jay, Fla., and Charles E. Gandy of Atmore, and PVCs Justin A. Clark and William A. Tubberville.
As of Thursday, Sept. 8, the squad was in Gulfport and had joined the local police to keep the area secure.
This week, Gov. Bob Riley announced he would make things a little easier on those serving in the relief efforts when he received approval from the Defense Department for Guard soldiers to be converted from state military pay status to federal military pay status for 180 days.
This change means that the squad from Brewton, along with other troops that have been activated in this emergency, will be provided with benefits they do not receive while they are under the state status. These benefits include medical coverage for families, disability benefits and retirement credits.
Riley requested the change on Friday, Sept. 2, and it is retroactive to Aug. 29, the day the hurricane struck. To date, Riley has ordered 3, 000 Alabama National Guard soldiers and airmen to state active duty to provide relief efforts with security, medical engineering and communication support in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.