Community honors last wave of soldiers leaving for Iraq deployment

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) For weeks, soldiers have been leaving Fort Wainwright as they head to the Middle East for a large-scale deployment to participate in Operation Inherent Resolve. On Wednesday, the last large group left and got an escort to the airport.

On Wednesday, the last large group of soldiers that are deploying as a part of Operation Inherent Resolve got an escort to the airport. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)

Before the soldiers got on the bus, we spoke to a few of them about what’s on their mind going into this deployment.

Commander of Bravo Company, 3-21 Infantry Regiment, Captain Cedric Pollard, says it has been awesome preparing for this deployment. “This is something that has been in the works for the past year and a half, started out with guys doing training at the National Training Center in California, as well as doing training up here in Fairbanks, in the Arctic, as well as down in the Delta. The big takeaway is everyone is looking forward to it, everybody can’t wait to get on grounds, and do what we have to do,” said Pollard.

Pollard says the support of the families has always been a big backbone for the soldiers. “With the help of the family, and the support from our loved ones, whether it’s here or whether it’s in the Lower 48, that support has helped soldiers tremendously throughout every deployment that we’ve been on so far,” said Pollard.

One young soldier, Specialist Kiara Graham said, “I’m fairly new to the Army, so it’s kind of scary, but at the same time, it’s like let’s get this over with, I just got here and not too many people can say their first year of being in the Army, they deployed.”

Although she has never been deployed, Graham says she has heard from others who are already overseas that it’s pretty tiring being a cook while deployed. “You never know if it’s going to be their last meal, so you have to make sure it’s the best meal they have, so you put your heart into it, when you’re here you still have to put your heart into it, but it’s more relaxed than it is in deployment,” said Graham.

Graham says she has been training for months for this deployment and feels ready.

Staff Sergeant Chad Rosales says he believes they are 100% for their mission when they get overseas. “We trained all our soldiers to be as ready as they can be, it never ends, so when we get over there, we’ll still train and still teach, mentor, make sure our guys are ready to go to conquer anything they have to,” said Rosales.

He says with such a big deployment, it’s a lot to make sure everyone is ready, “whether it’s their family affairs, their life back home, making sure that everyone’s taken care of. It’s a big step, especially for these guys that haven’t deployed before. I think everybody’s excited, ready to go, and it should be fun,” said Rosales.

Police car after police car arrived on Fort Wainwright to help escort the soldiers to the airport. Fairbanks Police Department Chief Nancy Reeder was there and said it was an honor to take part in escorting the soldiers over the past several weeks. “When we got the call to ask if we were willing to participate, there wasn’t even a hesitation. It’s an absolute honor, we’re fully supportive of our military here in Fairbanks, and have a lot of veterans on the department. I’m a veteran, and it was something that without hesitation we knew that we would do,” said Reeder.

Because it was the last big group of soldiers deploying there were representatives from multiple police agencies and fire departments escorting the soldiers to the airport. Reeder says it has been amazing to watch the community show their support as the convoy of soldiers drive by. “To watch them get on the sides of the roads, to salute when they see the buses coming through, the kids running to the fences with the signs, it’s indicative of how Fairbanks cares about the military,” said Reeder.

These soldiers will be overseas for nine months before they return home.

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