Guardsmen Help on the Homefront

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For Maggie Norris, caring for her ranch home is a love and a labor.

"There's just so much to do and so much to just keep the place looking like my husband always helped keep it look," Norris said.

But when Sgt. Robert Norris deployed to Iraq for a year starting in January, it left a hefty load of chores to do on Maggie's expansive property. Enter Sgt. Norris's colleagues, recruiters from across the state.

"It's just a lot of things that she can't get around to," said MSG Mark Weedon, also with the Army National Guard. "Not that she couldn't do it, because she can, but just can't get around to it."

Fiddler's Green totals 16 acres, and usually, there are about 40 horses here at one time. It's enough for any married couple to handle, much less a mother a who is single for a year, and also has four kids to raise.

"They could be doing other things on this really pretty day, and they decided to come out here and do this," said Maggie Norris, "so it was really nice of them."

The guardsmen, and their spouses helped out with everything from fixing a fence to painting a roof to rebuilding a barn. No task was too small, no building too big to work on.

"We've got about nine tasks going on at the same time," said Weedon. "We've got nine recruiters from the National Guard on this team, Team Brazos."

"It's just the fact that they're not forgotten," said SSG Milburd LaBorde, "and there are chores to that need to be done, and we're here to do them."

"It's difficult because you miss them," said Norris, "but you do learn about what you can do and what you're capable of doing, and how much you miss them for just the fact that they're them, and not what they do around the house."

To fill the gap left when a loved one deploys is impossible. But do make sure a home is clean?

As the National Guard motto says, "You Can."