FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Close to 2,500 soldiers from the 1/25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team are heading off for their deployment to Iraq. On Friday, August 23, 2019, there was a ‘Casing of the Colors’ ceremony to honor the soldiers leaving for their deployment.
“This is an Army tradition that dates back decades, when we case the colors that our soldiers rally around in battle, it signifies that we’re moving along on another campaign,” said Colonel Matthew W. Brown, commander for the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division ”Arctic Wolves.”
Brown says the brigade was selected from across the Army to become the backbone of taskforce Iraq. “A large contingent of the international community’s fight known as Combined Joint Taskforce-Operation Inherent Resolve. That is the international community’s commitment to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and we’re privileged to be part of that team.”
Sergeant Steven Cavazos is leaving for his first deployment and says he hopes to gain knowledge. “I’m trying to stay in for hopefully 20 years, and that’s one step I need, at least a deployment to separate myself from people who haven’t deployed.” Cavazos says he’s expecting from this deployment, “no sleep, a lot of training especially, high alert all the time, and a lot of gym time hopefully.”
Cavazos says there will also be a lot of bonding, “especially for the new guys, so they can see that we actually care about them. A lot of people when they join they’re like really scared and don’t know what to expect, and we’re trying to keep that family together, so that they can know they can trust on us for everything.”
Brown says they are 100% ready, “these soldiers have trained extremely hard, I’m proud of every single one of them over the last 14 months I’ve been privileged to serve with them.” Brown says after going to the National Training Center, they recovered and then continued training specifically for the type of tasks as they train, advise and enable Iraqi Security Forces.
Laurie Kirschling says this is the third deployment she will have gone through with her husband. “The hardest part is being so removed, and so remote and isolated from your family and friends, it’s kind of tough to go through a deployment in Alaska, but you’ll survive and you’ll actually thrive, and learn what you’re made of here,” said Kirschling. “I know my husband is really excited for this deployment, they’ve been gearing up for it, and he’s ready to go.”
One spouse Hannah O’Connor says this deployment will be different than the last one because she is about to have another child, and will have two children to take care of while her husband is deployed. O’Connor says originally her husband was supposed to leave on her due date, but now he is able to deploy a little late to see the birth of their child and spend a couple weeks before deploying.
O’Connor said she learned from the last deployment to just be as understanding as you can be of what her husband is going through overseas. “They are doing like a million things over there all the time, even when they say they have down time, they’re always doing some sort of training or like my husband is going to take college classes over there this time. So, just trying to be understanding that they have to live their life over there and I have to continue mine over here and just finding that happy medium of being able to still communicate and talk every day,” said O’Connor.
When asked what’s on their mind right now:
“Everything is just kind of going through my mind, ya know like how I’m going to survive the winter by myself. I mean this is our first true winter here, we got here in December so we kind of caught the tail end of everything. Just doing everything by myself again, getting back into a routine and now adding a second child into it, and just making sure that he’s okay over there, and still trying to make time to communicate with him. It’s a lot to think about all at once, and the last couple weeks is always where all of it just kind of hits you at once. ” said O’Connor.
“I’m most excited for him to come home to a new puppy, so preparing for that but also just knowing that time will go by quickly, and that there’s a great community here in Fairbanks and on post, so we’ll have a lot of support here,” said Kirschling.
“Readiness, I’m ready to get over there, do what I have to do and come back,” said Cavazos.
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