Bay Area soldiers prepare to deploy to Iraq

November 12, 2010 6:32:04 PM PST
More Bay Area soldiers are headed to Iraq, some for the first time. As every military family knows, leaving for a war zone is a challenging time for the men and women on their way, and the ones who wait and worry.

For the 80 men and women of the 749th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion their deployment ceremony marks the end of their time at home with their families, for one year. As part of Operation New Dawn, the 749th, or Goldminers, are headed to Southern Iraq. There, the California Army National guardsmen will provide transportation, maintenance and support services to the U.S. and allied forces still there.

"We're the closers. We're the ones that are going to turn the lights off," says Sgt. Sharon Stallworth.

"Sometimes it's hard to understand at our level exactly where our piece of the puzzle fits, but we have faith in our leaders," says Sgt. Ken Baker.

As hard as it is for them to leave, it may be more difficult for the family members they leave behind.

"They're still going, and it's really hard on the family members," says Sylvia Baker, a soldier's wife.

Many of the children known, with dad or mom gone, they too will be on a mission.

"I've got to take care of my family, help them out because they're going to need me, and do good in school and stuff," says Rakeal Stallworth, a soldier's daughter.

"I'm going to be able to hold it [together] for a year. I'm going to Skype her, and I'll email her, and talk to her, so I'm pretty confident," says Tiffany Fedor, a soldier's daughter.

Stallworth is headed for her second deployment, leaving behind seven children.

When asked if it was easier or harder for the second time, she said, "I think it's a little easier, but they're older."

Most of these soldiers have been to Iraq before, but for some, this will be their first deployment.

June Williams' son Tommy is heading to Iraq for the first time. She's asked Stallworth to keep an eye on him.

"She has seven children of her own so she knew exactly how I felt. I just asked her to take care of him and she said she's going to take care of everybody," said June.


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