WHEN Peter Azer's National Guard unit was called up, he was the owner-operator of a semi-tractor trailer hauling sea-containers off the docks of Boston to points all over New England. As he thinks back on it, he made the change from civilian to military life as easily as changing lanes on an interstate - albeit in rush-hour traffic.
With only a trace of regret in his voice, Mr. Azer recounts how while he was in Saudi Arabia he missed the wedding of one of his three sons. Another son had to postpone going to college for a year.
"There wasn't enough money coming in," he says matter-of-factly.
Almost offhandedly he mentions how he lost his tractor-trailer truck. "I couldn't make the monthly payments on it. I can't fault the people at the leasing company. They just couldn't hold on anymore. They were nice about it," he says.
At 51, and a sergeant, he was one of the older members of the 1058th, a transportation unit that provided logistical support to the 82nd Airborne. "I didn't mind going. I always felt ready if I were ever called upon," he says. "It was harder on my wife, she was left with all the responsibility for the home and only a 24-hour notice."
He still has three years left in the National Guard but when his active duty ends this March, he plans to lease a tractor-trailer again and go back into business for himself.