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Guardsmen 'Ready to Go' When Call Comes

By TIM MITCHELL
© 2001 THE NEWS-GAZETTE
Published Online October 3, 2001

RANTOUL -

   Sgt. Daniel Lundeen spends his days working with high school dropouts as a staff member at Lincoln's Challenge, but at night he keeps his eyes on national newscasts.

   Lundeen is a National Guardsman who has been put on alert that he may soon be called away from the Rantoul academy to assist with the response to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

   "If they call us, we´re fully trained," said Lundeen. "As for me, I know I´m ready to go. It´s my duty."

   As many as 40 staff members at Lincoln´s Challenge could be called into action in the coming weeks, according to academy spokesman Dick Steigmann.

   By Tuesday afternoon, six staff members had been called from the academy to assist with security at Illinois airports, Steigmann said.

   "The majority of these people would be thrilled to be called up," said Steigmann.

   Lundeen, who works as a team leader at Lincoln´s Challenge, has been in the National Guard for 5 years. Before that he served on active duty with the Army for four years and was a member of the Army Reserve for 1 year.

   On Tuesday, Lundeen showed his class a video about Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan.

   Lundeen said he has been preparing for military action all his life.

   "When I was a kid, I always wanted to be like John Wayne," he said. "When I got into the Army, I realized military life isn´t always as much John Wayne as it looks, but I wouldn´t trade my career for anything else in the world."

   If Lundeen is called into action, he said he would most likely serve as a truck driver transporting supplies to soldiers.

   "When you go to war, that´s real," said Lundeen. "We have to prepare ourselves physically ... and mentally to make sure we know how to deal with it, but also spiritually and psychologically, too."

   Another Lincoln´s Challenge staffer, Specialist Thomas Garrett, said the National Guard could call him into action any time.

   "I want to be a part of whatever our nation does," said Garrett. "All the training that I have received to this point has been geared to serving my country.

   "At this time when our citizens are under our under attack by terrorists, we need our military most of all."

   Garrett said he had no idea what his duties would be should the National Guard call him to action, but he said his experience helping train the cadets at Lincoln´s Challenge will help him to be better prepared for whatever challenges he might face either supporting homeland defense or as part of a mission overseas. v2 cigs coupon code - coupons, discounts . uae ambassador . 100% Free Online Dating, Personal Ads, and Matchmaking Service for Singles at Mingle 2 com

   "Working here keeps me in daily contact with the discipline necessary to be an effective member of the National Guard."

   Another team leader, Gulf War veteran Staff Sgt. Retired Michael Savage, came to Lincoln´s Challenge after an 11-year career with the Air Force.

   Savage says he hopes the U.S. will wait until all its forces are in place before launching a military strike.

   "I´m afraid we are going to jump the gun," said Savage.

   Savage said he fears television networks may give too much information to terrorists before the United States can effectively respond to the attacks.

   "I suspect bin Laden and all his boys are already working on a counter plan because they know what we are doing," he said.

   Specialist Dane Elkins is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve after serving for 3 years as part of the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, KY.

   "It´s exciting knowing I might be able to use the skills that I have been training for all my life," said Elkins. "But it is also sad that so many people had to die first before we started this war against terrorism."

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