Looking Back, March 20, 2003
Looking Back, March 20, 2003: Early graduation may lead to early deployment
When most Quincy High School seniors are thinking about college admissions, prom and graduation, one senior is thinking about the very real possibility of going to war. Mariko Downs is part of the Army Reserves’ 737 Transportation Company based in Yakima. Her unit was recently put on alert as reserve units around the country are being prepared to go to war.
Last week, the unit added 51 more people, putting it just over the number needed to be deployed overseas. The unit is currently on increased alert and awaiting more instructions.
Downs decided to finish high school early, so if her unit is mobilized, she will be able to join more quickly. She finished high school last week, with more than enough credits to graduate. One of her last assignments, her senior project, was on her military drills. She said she had hoped to include pictures in her presentation, but because her unit is on heightened security, it wasn’t possible.
Now Downs is waiting for the school to send a letter to her commander, which will help clear her to go on to Advanced Individual Training. Downs completed her basic training last summer at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.
Because Downs is in a transportation unit, she will complete her six weeks of Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. She is hoping to get in the very next cycle, so she can join her unit more quickly if they are deployed. Her commander said if that happens he will try to save a spot for Downs so she can join the 737 Transportation unit when she has completed her training.