Reporting for duty

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It took 19 years, but Det. Alice Donaldson said she knew one day she’d need to pack her bags and head overseas.

That day is Thursday.

Donaldson, a 17-year veteran with the Andalusia Police Department, will begin a 13-month deployment to Iraq today as a member of the National Guard’s 2101st Transportation Company out of Demopolis.

Tuesday, Donaldson spent the day saying her goodbyes to family, friends and co-workers.

“I wasn’t surprised when I got word in February that I was going over,” Donaldson said. “I had been attached to the transportation company in Brantley but was told they pulled me to go to the 2101st TC.

“I figured I’d go to war sooner or later, especially after 19 years in the Guard,” she said. “I’ve just been waiting on it. It was a matter of time. Now, when I get back, I can retire.”

Donaldson said she was “nervous but excited” about the deployment, where she will serve as a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army.

“I was active duty in Desert Storm,” she said. “I got an idea of how things are going to go, but every war is different. Now, as a staff sergeant, I’ll be over other soldiers and that’s a big responsibility. My plan is to go over there, do I what I have to do and bring us home safe.”

She said the hardest thing about “going to war” was preparing her family for what might lie ahead. She said it was hard to explain the situation to her 8-year-old granddaughter, Andalusia Elementary School third grader Taelynn Rawls.

“The nice thing was that I’ve known since February that I was leaving, but I didn’t get the order until December,” she said. “I had to explain to my granddaughter that Granny had to go fight a war. I had to try and explain to her that it was the military that was sending me and not the police department.

“She reads a lot and watches the news and sees the things about the soldiers getting killed,” she said. “Let’s just say, she is not pleased about the trip.”

However, Donaldson said she, like any other self-respecting “Granny,” did what grannies do best — resulted to bribery.

“I promised her I would send her lots of stuff, packages with her name on it,” she said. “She was a little better after that.”

Donaldson said she will spend 400 days in the undisclosed location, serving in many capacities.

“I am a retention NCO, which means I convince people to stay in the Army,” she said. “I’m a dispatcher and parts and supply clerk, an administrative clerk and a truck driver. Those are four things I may end up doing.”

Donaldson said she plans to make the journey with her computer, lots of socks and her Bible.

“I know we won’t have a lot of down time, but when we do, I plan to read my Bible,” she said. “I know He’s looking out for me, but it doesn’t hurt to read up on about how He does it.”

Donaldson will leave Andalusia on Thursday and travel to Fort Dix, N.J., for training before departing for Iraq.