“Dust off to save a life.” That’s the slogan members of the 571st will live by as they return to Iraq for the second time since the war began. But they’ll carry with them the memories of seven of their fellow soldiers who did not make it back home.
On January 8th, 2004, bullets brought down a Black Hawk air ambulance during what should have been a routine medical mission. The crash claimed the lives of four members of the 571st. Just seven months earlier, 3 other members of the unit were killed when their helicopter crashed into the Tigris River. They were trying to rescue a child wounded in an explosion.
Naturally, the soldiers who are re-deploying are somewhat anxious about going back to Iraq. But they say they are ready to complete the mission at hand.
A farewell ceremony was held in an airfield hangar at Fort Carson Thursday. But these troops aren't going just yet---they get about two weeks leave before boarding a plane to the Middle East. And that’s just enough time for families to say some long good-byes.
"We've just been trying to spend as much time together as possible before he leaves and let him spend some quality time with the kids," says military wife Brandy Worley.
With deployments, it's not just the soldiers that bear the burden of war---it's also the families left behind. "It's very hard because my son gets very emotional. He's very attached to him so it's very hard on them. But on the other hand, they know their daddy has a mission to do," says Lisa Ferrio.
And even as a dangerous mission lies ahead, the soldiers, too, are thinking of their families. "I think the hardest part was to get the family ready get them in the mindset that I'm gonna be gone 12--possibly 14 months," says CPT Mark Worley.
But families and soldiers alike draw some comfort from knowing the unit is well prepared to carry out its life saving mission. "I'm not thrilled, but I think that it's his duty and I'm glad that he's with a unit that's prepared and I think he's looking forward to going and getting the job done," says Brandy.
"We're all concerned for our soldiers that go over there but we realize that this is something that has to be done," says Lisa.
Support groups and counselors are available to help the families deal with this deployment.