By Army Sgt. Catherine Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service
Feb. 26, 2009 - Few people could fault Army Spc. Bobby Gladney when he did not immediately re-enlist after seven years of service in the National Guard, which included a deployment here in 2003. Gladney had family back home in Mississippi, including two small children he didn't want to leave again. And he had dreams outside of the military.
But Gladney did re-enlist with the Mississippi National Guard and is back here serving as a construction equipment repairman with the 890th Engineer Battalion's Forward Support Company.
Gladney re-enlisted, he said, because he couldn't bear the idea of his company deploying without him. "I could not bear the thought of my battle buddies answering the call ... and [me] not being there to pitch in and complete the missions assigned to us," he said.
Gladney, of D'Iberville, Miss., said his first deployment to Iraq with the 890th Engineer Battalion in 2003 instilled a sense of pride in him, even though the living environment was rough and he did not know what to expect or even if he would to return to his family.
Upon his return home, Gladney decided he would hang up his uniform -- until he heard that the 890th would deploy again. After taking time to consider what he would be giving up, and with the support of his mother, Cheryl, and fiancée, Ginger Sonier, he decided to re-enlist.
Working in the motor pool as a construction equipment mechanic, Gladney has gained new experience and knowledge learning to repair mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. The MRAPs are a series of route-clearance vehicles used to clear Baghdad's roads.
"Spc. Bobby Gladney is a colorful soldier and is committed to his duty. He is respectful and his humor helps keep morale up in the motor pool as well in the unit," Army Sgt. Ashley Almont, Gladney's squad leader, said.
The support of Gladney's mother and that of the rest of his family, he said, has made his deployment easier, especially after the recent death of his father.
"I believe her words and pride are what got me through the tough times; even though she was concerned she never showed it in her words," Gladney said.
Of his father's death, he said, "I knew he would've wanted me to continue with my mission, so I stayed to continue on. My family got me through the tough times. Therefore, I'm serving this time for my father and my country."
Although he has faced adversity in the past, Gladney said he eagerly anticipates the future.
"The deployment has been rough on my two children, but their mother explained to them where I am and why I'm over here," he said. "I think having a supportive relationship while being deployed is very important and I'm thankful for my mother and fiancée. I'm looking forward to getting married and catching up with the time I lost with my family and friends."
In his spare time, Gladney is preparing to become a small business owner once he returns home to D'Iberville.
"I enjoy creating drawings and stories for and with my battle buddies," Gladney said. "My dream is to become a cartoon artist and produce short stories and movies. I have purchased several books on owning a small business.
"The training and responsibilities I have received during my Army career have given me the confidence and knowledge that I can accomplish anything that I put my mind to."
(Army Sgt. Catherine Graham serves in the Mississippi National Guard's 890th Engineer Battalion, 926th Engineer Brigade public affairs office.)