Dozens of National Guard troops across Eastern Kentucky are getting ready tonight for another mission this time, a little closer to home. They're not heading overseas but to the U.S. border to keep track of who's coming into the country.
First Lieutenant Christopher Jackson and several others with the Mountain Warriors made it back safe to Eastern Kentucky from Iraq last June. Now over one hundred soldiers are getting ready for another mission, to guard the U.S./Mexico border.
"We'll be the eyes and ears for the I.C.E. We can identify illegal immigrants as they cross," Jackson said.
The soldiers will set up post near Yuma Arizona for three weeks of what would usually be standard training duty.
"Go out and do the same kind of things we'd be doing for training, but this is for real," Jackson said.
Six thousand National Guard troops throughout the U.S. have been mobilized to keep watch at the nation's borders while the U.S. government continues an ongoing debate over immigration control and how to deal with illegal immigrants. Lt. Jackson says the Mountain Warrior's mission is clear.
"You've got to be able to know who's coming in and who's coming out. As far as the immigration issue, I don't have a call on that. Just to make sure our borders are safe is all I'm concerned about," Jackson said.
"I think they need to protect the borders. I think that's what we needed to begin with, but I hope they stay safe. I love them all and I'll be praying for them," said Jessica Christopher.
Soldiers from across Eastern Kentucky, many from Middlesboro, Harlan, and Barbourville make up the over one hundred troops heading to the border.
The soldiers heading to border patrol leave from the National Guard Armory in Middlesboro about nine Saturday morning. We'll have a crew there and we'll bring you coverage of their departure Saturday night on Mountain News Weekend Edition.