|Soldiers prepare for war
|Posted: Thursday, December 3, 2009 4:35 pm
|As soldiers with the 1171st Transportation Company filled their Army-issue duffel bags in preparation for their projected 12-month deployment to Iraq on Tuesday, the conversations circulating around the Dresden armory were jovial, but cautious about what the future will hold.
SSgt. Renee Bush of Kodak is deploying for a third time to the Middle East. Bush said when she heard of the 177-soldier unit’s deployment to Iraq, she volunteered to go with them.
“This is a really young unit. For many of them, this is their first time over there and I thought I could help with the transition because I have been there,” Bush said.
While Bush leaves behind a husband and three children, she said she knows her children are in good hands.
“My husband is an awesome guy. He has been a mom, a dad and a supportive husband,” Bush added.
With all of the global media reports and dramatized television shows depicting life in Iraq for the U.S. troops, Bush said some of what is portrayed, is not always a reality.
She explained there will always be a potential for IED encounters, but where the unit was headed was more progressive than what people stateside could imagine.
“There are actually Taco Bells and McDonald’s over there. We will be on the road a lot, but there will be a lot to do during our down times,” Bush said.
The female sergeant said soldiers will have a chance to communicate with loved ones via the Internet.
And a little taste of home is always welcome by overseas military personnel.
“It didn’t matter what you got in the mail, just as long as you got something. Those care packages are great because we would share things with other people in our unit. The cards and letters are things that make you think of home,” she said.
SSgt. James “Squirrel” Mealer of Pillowville is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Mealer was lighthearted when he told The Press that “Squirrel’s Desert Kitchen” was reopening soon.
When asked if he was ready to leave his wife and children home to go back to the Middle East, Mealer turned solemn.
“I have heard that there are a lot of changes over there. I really don’t want to leave my wife and kids, but when you take the oath like we did, you do what you’ve got to do,” Mealer commented.
PFC Chris Latham shared that he knew this day was going to come when he enlisted in the Guard only last November.
“I’m nervous and anxious. The sooner we get started, the sooner we get to come home,” Latham expressed.
“It comes with a sense of pride though. It is an honor. You meet people everyday who truly want to get in, who want to be in the military. They tell me that they wish they could go with us, but they never made it in,” Latham added.
This is Sgt. Keith Price’s second deployment to the Middle East. Price said the desert and the absence of family make for “long days.”
“Thinking about the kids and knowing that I would come back home to them gets me through,” Price added. While different soldiers expressed a different sentiment about their deployments, the sense of family described by Bush was evident among the unit.
“Deployment does bring you closer together. You become one big family. You depend on each other to keep you company and you look out for one another. You create sisterhoods, brotherhoods and parental bonds with everyone. Like one big family,” Bush described.
The 1171st Transportation Co. was put on alert last year. Mobilization orders were issued this summer for the unit.
The soldiers are set to depart from the Dresden National Guard Armory at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. From there, the troops will head to Fort Bliss, Texas for training before coming home during the Christmas holiday.
They are set to leave the states bound for the Middle East some time in January.