Posted: May 13, 2005 4:08 pm EST

Mississippi native serving his country in Maryland unit (~16 col. in.)
by Brian Livingston/Laurel (Miss.) Leader-Call
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    Additional Information: Maj. Jerome Barrett, a member of the 1398th SDB, scans over paperwork pertaining to the troops in his unit while flying to Kuwait.

    CNHI News Service photo by Brian Livingston/The Leader-Call, Laurel, Miss.

    By Brian Livingston
    CNHI News Service

    Mississippi seemed far away to Maj. Jerome Barrett.
    Soaked in sweat and wearing desert fatigues, Barrett was busy getting equipment prepared for movement. He is a major in the U.S. Army Reserve of the Baltimore, Md., 1398th Supply Deployment Brigade.
    The unit was due to get on a plane at Fort Dix, N.J., for the 16-hour flight, carrying with it all the equipment the 57 men and women would need to make them as comfortable as possible and allow them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
    “I have mixed emotions like other soldiers who are obligated to go serve their country,” said Barrett hours later on a commercial airliner contracted to fly troops back and forth from the theater. “I’m looking forward to serving but the time away from my family will be difficult. I know that but I’m also at peace with it as well.”
    Barrett, and his wife Cynthia, have two children, Jerome Jr., 16, and Constance, 12. She’s a Mississippi native as well from Jackson. In fact, most of the family members of Barrett and his wife still live in Jackson.
    “Mom and Dad had six boys,” Barrett said with a smile on his face. “They were trying hard for a girl, I guess. Four of my brothers live in the Jackson area and one lives in Japan.”
    Barrett has a degree in industrial technology from Jackson State University he obtained in 1985. He joined the 1398th in 1997 when he moved his family to Clinton, Maryland.
    The 1398th SDB is tasked with getting the machines of war from point A to point B as per the theater commander. Moving tons and tons of equipment ranging from bullets to water is a daunting task taken on by all types of supply units. The 1398th takes great pride in their job.
    “I’m a little surprised we haven’t been deployed sooner,” said Barrett. “Ours is such a unique and important job that I figured we’d go in the first wave but as it is they chose us later.”
    Five weeks of training at Fort Dix has prepared the unit, according to Barrett, for anything he and others in his group will take.
    There have been countless convoy operations to teach the men and women of the 1398th how to best survive and come home. The biggest scourge of the convoy, the improvised explosive device or IED, drew major attention.
    “I don’t think we could’ve been more prepared anywhere else,” said Barrett about his time at the New Jersey training center. “How to do searches and how best to identify threats were major subjects. We listened very closely because we know what’s been going on over there.”
    Specifically, Barrett and the rest of his team, are trained to prepare the equipment for movement for the men in the theater. It has to be with precision and with accuracy. Otherwise, troops arrive without the tools needed for them to carry out their mission. If that happens, then that means Barrett and the rest of the soldiers of the 1398th have their mission.
    “We have to properly manage the equipment so the other troops can do their jobs,” We may not be on the front pages of the newspapers like the combat guys but without us, you wouldn’t have any combat.”
    Barrett said he knows why he’s in the military.
    “I’m thankful we are in the country we are in,” he said. “America is a great country. While we are away doing our jobs we ask just one thing of our family and friends. That is to keep us in your prayers so that we may come home to our families and the country we love.”

    Brian Livingston writes for the Leader-Call in Laurel, Miss. He is on assignment in Kuwait.

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