Hall County students return to in-person school next week
Students in the Hall County system, excluding those who elected to take online school, will return to in-person class for all five days next week, beginning Monday, Jan. 25.
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Guards families unite for support
Group picnic held for relatives of Charlie Company
Shelby Garrett, left, gives some badminton advice Saturday to Jonathan Smith during the picnic for Charlie Company National Guard families at The River Community Church in Murrayville. Shelby’s brother, Jason, is a member of the Gainesville-based guard unit serving in Afghanistan. - photo by Tom Reed
Operation Patriot’s Call:

Shelby Garrett misses her big brother.

That would be Jason Garrett, a member of the Gainesville-based Charlie Company, part of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 48th Brigade, which has recently been deployed to Afghanistan.

“It’s hard not having him here. Sometimes I’m up in the middle of the night, crying on the phone to my friends,” said 13-year-old Shelby.

“It’s scary because you don’t know what’s going on over there, but I know this is what he has wanted to do since he was 15. When 9/11 happened, he said that he wanted to ‘find out who did this and kick their butts.’ So I miss him, but I know this is what he wanted to do.”

Shelby says being around others who also have a loved one that is deployed helps her cope with not having her big brother around.

To provide support for more family members like Shelby, Operation Patriot’s Call and Charlie Company’s family readiness group organized a family fun day picnic Saturday at River Community Church in Murrayville.

“This is the first time that some of the families have been without dad, so we wanted to do something to help get their minds off of it,” said Dallinger, a member of Patriot’s Call.

Operation Patriot’s Call is an organization that works to support the families of local troops who have been deployed.

“We try to make life easier for the families while their soldier is away. We try to help them meet their needs,” said Harvey Gainer. “For instance, if they call us and say that their washer isn’t working, or that their car has broken down, we help get those things fixed.”

For Dayle Koester, this is her first deployment she’s endured with her husband, 1st Lt. Gregg Koester.

“We get to talk almost every day,” said Koester, who is the chair of the Charlie Company Family Readiness Group. “It’s really amazing having technology like webcams because they allow us to talk and see each other. There’s no static or delays, so it’s almost like having him there,”

“But even though we get to talk a lot, it’s tough not having him here, so I still have to take it one day at a time. It’s good having events like these because you get to be around people who are in the same situation as you; it helps to justify your feelings. It’s nice having a support group.”

Lorie Moran says that being able to talk on the phone with her husband, Capt. Jeff Moran, makes his second deployment a bit easier than the last one.

“He bought a cell phone over there and I have an international calling card, so we talk every day,” she said. “This deployment is a little easier because we know what to expect. But knowing also makes it more difficult because you know how long they’ll be gone.

“Being able to talk to him often helps, but it also makes it tougher when you don’t hear from him; you automatically think the worst. But we made it through the last deployment, so I know we can make it through this one.”

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