Georgia College students called to active duty for inauguration

Georgia College students called to active duty for inauguration

For most students, the first week of the semester involves locating your new classes, meeting with your professors and planning your schedule for the next few months.

Mickensey Carter and Micheal Lawson had different duties though. They were in Washington D.C. serving with the Georgia Army National Guard—called to active duty in the days leading up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration.  

Carter and Lawson's Unit at the Inauguration.
Carter and Lawson's Unit at the Inauguration.

The Bleckley County natives have been friends since the sixth grade. Both always had a strong desire to serve in the military and joined the National Guard as soon as they could.

“I was planning pretty much since my junior year of high school to join the military,” said Carter. “Then he (Lawson) just went ahead with it, so I did too.”

Lawson signed up when he was 17. The pair have served in National Guard for about five years. During that time, they’ve been called to active duty multiple times on top of their regularly scheduled trainings —all while also attending college.

“It is difficult a lot of the time trying to balance both school and my National Guard duties,” said Lawson.

In early January, the friends were preparing to start their spring semester classes at Georgia College, until Carter—an accounting major—and Lawson—an exercise science major—received orders they would be called to active duty for the inauguration.

“I emailed my professors on my way to DC on the bus,” said Carter.

“They worked with me, and they were emailing me parts of the syllabus and reading materials to help me stay ahead,” said Carter. “We didn't really have a lot of time to get on the Internet, but the professors were very considerate considering the situation was just thrown at us last minute.”

While in Washington D.C., they primarily focused on guarding check-points set up around the Capitol.

“They had fences up, and we guarded those to make sure people didn't try to get through,” said Carter. “They had so many checkpoints. We were mainly just there, I guess, as a show of force so people didn’t try anything.”

They worked alongside servicemen from across the country, while also witnessing history firsthand.   “

That’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be that close to the Inauguration of the President of the United States,” said Carter.

“It wasn’t a big deal to get called up, besides the timing of missing the first few days of school, but it was worth it because we got to be right there for the inauguration while everything happened,” he said.

Lawson works at an Albany hospital.
Lawson works at an Albany hospital.

This marks the second time in the last year the pair has been called to active duty. In spring 2020, they responded during the initial surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I had 12-hour night shifts at Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany, Georgia, helping out the nurses in the ER wherever they needed extra hands,” said Lawson. “We would do temperature checks at the doors so that would free up some people and help in any other way we could. After I was there for about three months, I was on a decon team going into nursing homes and decontaminating them.”

“I was in Cordele running the supply chain for our battalion from our headquarters unit to all the southern part of Georgia,” Carter said. “I would decide how the COVID-19 tests were dropped off and received and all the equipment.”

Carter (left) and Lawson (right) in Afghanistan
Carter (left) and Lawson (right) in Afghanistan

They also served in Kabul, Afghanistan for seven months in 2019.

“I was in charge of all communications and tracking for the FOB (Forward Operating Base),” said Carter. “I also taught other countries (Georgia, Nepal, Denmark) how to use the radio equipment to effectively communicate with the American forces.”

“I was a team leader in an infantry platoon, and it was my first time actually being a leader in charge of a few guys,” said Lawson. “We had various missions as an infantry platoon out there, but there was mainly a focus in keeping the Air Force safe while they conducted their responsibilities working with the Afghan population.”

Both have about one more year of active duty, then two years of inactive duty— where they’ll be called up as needed. They’re proud of their time in the service but ready to get settled in their lives and careers.

As an exercise science major Lawson plans to go into physical therapy—specifically to work with athletes or retired military. Carter hopes to use his accounting major to help him work for the FBI as a forensic accountant. 

Carter (right) and Lawson (left) in Afghanistan.
Carter (right) and Lawson (left) in Afghanistan.