SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is taking a major hiatus from one public service position to another. Thursday he announced he's being deployed to Afghanistan as an officer in the Navy in just five months.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be deployed February 28 through September 2014. Residents are surprised at the news, but understanding and supportive.
"I was kind of surprised. I had forgotten that he was still enlisted, but I do think it's a very noble thing. I'm supportive of it," Michiana resident Mitchell Hooton said.
"Anyone who's going to go serve our country overseas I admire and I wish him well and godspeed," Michiana resident Samuel Wakim said.
While Buttigieg serves thousands of miles from South Bend, he appointed City Controller Mark Neal, a 52-year-old businessman with the full confidence of the mayor and hopefully his constituents.
"I think the city will do fine and I know that the city council will probably step up and lead the way, but I do wish him well," Wakim said.
City officials aren't planning anything fancy during his deployment. It's bare basics until Buttigieg returns next September.
"Right now, it's meat, potatoes and water to cover our city's safety, fire, trash, job opportunities and just making sure that things in South Bend continue to thrive," South Bend Common Council member Oliver Davis said.
The city will move forward as Buttigieg sets a reminder that public service happens both at home and abroad.
"It's important for our public servants as well as any of our patriots to do their part, so I'm encouraged that he's willing to do his part to help protect our country and our freedoms," Hooton said.
Mayor Buttigieg has also declined to accept his mayoral salary while he's serving abroad. According to city officials, the city administration is required to continue to pay Buttigieg while he's deployed. However, Buttigieg can choose to donate that money back to the city.