Parents don't get break from worry when soldiers get break from war

What others say

Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2005

News about the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright has been scant of late, and for good reason. Its members are enjoying some leave time before their scheduled deployment to Iraq next month.

While there is outward quiet from Fort Wainwright, the Stryker unit's soldiers and their family members are likely busy contending with a variety of emotions: For the soldiers, it may be anxiousness to get the deployment under way so as to hasten the return home, or desire to put the long days of training to good use, or excitement or fear, or both. They may be ... carrying the emotions of being a newlywed. For their family members, the feelings are pride and worry.

Words from the family members tell it the best.

''With deployment looming soon, I am beginning to feel the fears creeping in,'' writes the mother of a soldier in the 172nd Stryker Brigade, adding her post last month to many others on a public Web site ( devoted to news of all Stryker brigades. ...

And from the wife of a soldier deployed to Iraq already with another Stryker unit:

''To the families of 172nd, know we are all here for you. My husband is in a Stryker brigade and is currently there in Iraq right now. We all know how it feels to know that your dear soldier will be leaving soon. Please treasure these days you have left with them.''

The Stryker families are indeed a close and sizable lot. The United States presently has four of the modern Stryker Brigades — the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, both out of Fort Lewis, Wash.; the 172nd at Fort Wainwright; and its newest, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which has been transferred from Fort Polk, La., to Fort Lewis. Two other Stryker brigades are planned, one in Hawaii the other in Pennsylvania.

As the brigades cycle through duty in Iraq, members of the Stryker family share their experiences with each other, providing comfort and support. A reading of the Web site postings shows the obvious gratitude from mothers and fathers and spouses of those who are about to deploy or who are on the ground in Iraq.

The 172nd will be gone for 12 to 18 months, leaving a void at Fort Wainwright, in the Fairbanks community and in the thousands of households of the deployed soldiers. But with strength and maybe a little luck, joy will replace worry.

In these final weeks before the brigade heads off to war, and with not much public activity out of Fort Wainwright, it might be easy for the nonmilitary community to forget about what's coming. Soldiers and their family members haven't forgotten, of course, and today are savoring the time remaining.

That's worth the rest of us remembering.

— The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

July 5

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