Local Troops Have Quick Turnaround, Leave For Iraq
Posted January 7, 2004 4:34 a.m. EST
POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. — More local soldiers are on their way to Iraq. But many of the Fort Bragg paratroopers who boarded a plane Wednesday said they hardly had time to unpack from their last deployment.
The soldiers headed out Wednesday just four months after returning from Afghanistan.
"It's overwhelming," SPC William Crawford said. "You are gone for seven or eight months and just getting used to everything, and all of a sudden, you find out two weeks ago you are leaving, and you don't know how to deal with it sometimes."
Crawford said he and others turned to their Army chaplain to help them deal.
Even the brigade commander said this deployment was unexpected. For the first time in 14 years, elements of all three 82nd brigades and division headquarters are deployed.
Leaders said that, despite the disappointment, the quick turnaround makes the soldiers even more prepared.
"They know what it means to be in combat," said Col. Matt Donahue, 1st Brigade commander. "They know how to fight."
Pvt. Michael Hart said having to leave again hit him in the heart.
"It's terrible," Hart said. "It's real hard to do. You just get back into the swing of things and have to do it all over again."
Pictures of his son, Austin, will help get Hart through.
"Even when he cries, I think it's cute," Hart said.
Some soldiers are trying to look at the bright side: they were able to spend Christmas with their families.
And because of the extra "hazard" pay that soldiers receive, a soldier told WRAL he expects to pay off his brand new house in just five years.
Single soldiers seem more eager than most to return to combat.
"We've been back long enough, and I'm ready to go and do our job," SPC James Lee said.
It is a job that these days has very little down time.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
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