ABERDEEN – Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Randle, who doubles as an E6 staff sergeant in the Mississippi National Guard, will serve in a military capacity for the next several months for what will be his second deployment.
“I went to Iraq in 2003. The Air Force was still bombing things, and things were still on fire when we got there. We said, ‘This is real-life stuff. This isn’t “Saving Private Ryan.”’ Our living conditions were in a truck or under a truck. Now, you can communicate with family wherever internet is available,” Randle said.
He deploys to Camp Shelby on Feb. 5 for a month before heading to Fort Bliss, Texas for more training and then onto Kuwait to receive work orders.
“I’ll be there in-country nine months from arrival,” Randle said. “Hopefully we’ll be stateside by the end of January or first of February and hopefully be back with family next April.”
Before his anticipated March or April 2019 return as chief of police, the leadership of the Aberdeen Police Department will be shared in three parts. Quinell Shumpert will handle day-to-day operations, Robbie Kendrick will be over patrol and shifts and Dwayne Ealy will oversee finances.
“Aberdeen has been good to me, from being a patrolman to a servant and doing something for the safety of the people,” Randle said. “I’m protecting my loved ones back home. Uncle Sam has been good to me and my family. Overall, it’s a living, and freedom ain’t free.”
Randle joined the Aberdeen Police Department in 1997 and was part of the state’s first wave of school resource officers shortly afterwards. In 2001, he joined the National Guard.
“I was in basic when the twin towers blew up. I see the urgency to be a part of what’s happening to our country,” Randle said. “I encourage anyone who’s iffy in life to give the military a try. It’s a hands-on institution that teaches the same thing any university would, but with a paycheck. The number one responsibility is to protect our country. When it’s time to suit up and boot up, you return all those incentives. You’re here to defend. If you don’t go to war when you’re in, you’re blessed.”
His homebase is with the 223rd Engineer Battalion, but he is deploying with the 155th Armored Brigade. Through his job role with the National Guard, which carries leadership responsibilities, he is a fuel specialist and can drive any military vehicle.