Rome’s National Guard transportation unit has 174 members, he said, and 160 of them will likely be in Afghanistan for nine months.
“One thing most people don’t realize is just how many places the Georgia Guard deploys on these missions,” Combs said. “On a given day in 2012, we have over 1,000 Guardsmen and 300 air Guardsmen deployed overseas. In fact, over 12,000 Georgia Guardsmen have been deployed since 2001.”
Combs was transferred to the Georgia Army National Guard in January 2010 after completing graduate school in Kentucky. His first assignment as an officer was serving as a platoon leader for the 1160th Transportation Company out of Rome.
In April 2010, the Department of Defense Construction and Facility Management Office hired him as an installation status report supervisor and during his time there, he inspected more than 70 Georgia National Guard facilities.
Combs was hired by the U.S. Department of Defense and helped the state’s Guard save $20 million.
He now serves as executive officer of the 1160th Transportation Co. in Rome where he is responsible for all transportation operations and preparing troops for going overseas.
Originally from Decatur, Combs is a recipient of two Army Achievement medals, a National Defense Service medal, a Global War on Terrorism service medal, an Army Service ribbon and Pathfinder badge.
The Georgia National Guard also provided disaster relief efforts to Haiti as well as recent victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The Guard also operates the Youth Challenge Academy for at-risk high school students. The academy lasts for 22 weeks and emphasizes the importance of academic achievement and physical fitness skills for life.
Many continue to higher educations, or return home with remarkable skills, Combs said, and some go on to join the military. About 11,500 cadets have graduated since 1992.
“We guardsmen are proud of our mission and we’re proud of the role we take in world and in this community,” he said.