COSCOM units deploy in support of OIF

Story by Pfc. Crystal Eldridge
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office

Traditionally, 13th Corps Support Command calls on its Soldiers to go above and beyond everyday - and its Soldiers answer in turn.

Three of the COSCOM's units answered this call Saturday, leaving family, friends and safety to defend not only each other as fellow Americans, but citizens of other nations as well.

Soldiers of the 61st Medical Battalion, 502nd Dental Company and 68th Engineer Company rolled out from Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"These Soldiers have been training so hard," said 61st Medical Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Jairo Gallego. "They're ready to get it over with. They know it's for a good cause."

"I knew I was going a year ago when I joined," said Pvt. Ace Schnacke of the 68th Engineer Company. "I'm excited - doing all this training for something!"

Schnacke and Pfc. Cody Heckt, also of the 68th, enlisted for money, they said. Heckt said he needed help paying for college. Still, both say they have no regrets about enlistment.

"I'm excited about seeing other people and how they live," added Schnacke, who looks at deployment as more than part of his job but as an adventure as well.

Schnacke and Heckt are among the ranks of those deploying for the first time. With them are Pfc. Bobbi Lowery and Spc. Brandy Childers, both of the 502nd Dental Company. Although it is their first time deploying, they all say they feel prepared.

"I think I'm ready," said Lowery. "I want to go and get it over with."

Lowery's husband, Jared Ryan, will be deploying soon as well, she said. This fact helps her face deployment with a more positive outlook because they will be coming home at the same time and will not have to deal with separation for several years at a time.

Childers, on the other hand, did not want to leave her husband and three children, although she was sure she would be able to handle it as soon as she could not see them anymore. Her husband, a disabled veteran, served 12 years in the Army and knows how to handle separation, Childers said.

Schnacke, whose wife left the deployment ceremony early because it was very painful to say goodbye, says he is not worried about himself but about his wife. He knows the deployment will be a time of difficulty but feels sure they will get through it.

There will be other Soldiers to help these and other first-timers during their deployment. Many Soldiers in these units have deployed two or three times, said Col. Jim Rice, 1st Medical Brigade Commander. Their experiences will be a tool for them to use to help themselves and others with the hardships ahead.

As for the families these Soldiers have left behind, the COSCOM has a network of Family Readiness Groups to offer support and advice on surviving deployment. Families who have experienced deployment firsthand make themselves available for those who are not sure what to expect.

Families of the 68th Engineer Company may contact their FRG assistant at (254) 554-6845. Families with the 1st Medical Brigade may call (254) 288-3117.


news photo
Soldiers of the 61st Medical Battalion, 502nd Dental Company and 68th Engineer Company enjoy each other's company as the units prepare to deploy Saturday. Their playful attitudes reflect their confidence in their leadership and each other's ability to get the job done. This confidence is a result of months of training and an understanding that they are deploying fo a good cause, said 61st Command Sgt. Maj. Jairo Gallego. Photo by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge, 13th COSCOM Public Affairs Specialist