"Boss Lift" brings employers to visit Guardsmen

By Charles Herrington


Businesspeople from across Mississippi visited Camp Shelby today to see firsthand how many of their employees who are also in the National Guard are training to protect our nation.  It was all part of an activity called a "boss lift," sponsored by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

More than 80 employers from across the state made the trip to the post on 9 Blackhawk helicopters.  Most came to see troops in the 155th Brigade Combat Team, a Mississippi National Guard unit which is training for a deployment to Iraq.

"It's given me a whole new appreciation for what these guys go through, just seeing what their life's like day to day and just seeing some of the things that they experience, it brings on a whole new meaning," said Quincy Crabb, an operations supervisor at Caterpillar of Booneville.

"The employers give up a lot to share their employees with the military," said Derwood Boyles, state chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.  Of course, we depend on that.  They (the National Guard) are equal to half of our military force now and that's the main part of protecting our freedom," Boyles said.

As part of their visit, the employers were taken on tours of the post, were witness to a mock ambush and were treated to lunch with the troops.

"I haven't seen some of these guys in several months and it's really good to see them again," said First Sergeant Brian Belue of the 155th Brigade Combat Team.  "They are my friends from back home, my companions, they've really supported us throughout this whole event and I'm really proud to see them today," Belue said.

The employers were also welcomed to the post by Mississippi adjutant general William Freeman, who gave them an update on the training of the 155th.

That unit will deploy to Iraq from Camp Shelby in a few weeks.