Friends and family had the formal chance to say goodbye to Soldiers and loved ones making up the 41st Engineer Company, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, June 16 at Custer Hill Parade Field before they deploy to Afghanistan for one year.

Throughout the ceremony, family members of Soldiers could be seen taking advantage of the sunny weather which allowed for videotaping and picture taking which would represent the final memories of their parents, spouses, sons and daughters before they go overseas.

Family members spent as much time as they could with their Soldiers before they deployed, however.

For Megan Burrow and Audrey Amanna of Maryland, that meant lots of time bowling, playing video games, swimming and going out to dinner with Spc. Chris Burrow, Megan's brother and Amanna's boyfriend.

Though Burrow and Amanna have experienced a deployment before and know more of what to expect while Spc. Burrow is gone, both women are a little more worried because the deployment is not to the familiar Iraq, but Afghanistan.

"Iraq was more established the last time he (Burrow) went. It's a little bit scarier going to Afghanistan," Megan Burrow said.

Jamie Schumaker of Missouri had similar sentiments regarding her son's, Spc. Eric Emo, deployment into Afghanistan. Though it is Emo's third deployment, it is also his first time into Afghanistan.

"We're just praying he comes back safe again. We're kind of used to it I guess," Schumaker said, explaining further that she keeps her cell phone on her at all times so she doesn't miss the times he is able to call home.

Cpt. Reginald Rice, company commander, tried to ease the fears about Afghanistan by explaining the training received in past months as well as the experience within the company will safeguard the unit and help in their mission success.

Rice also explained that because Afghanistan is a new place, it will keep his Soldiers sharper and more alert as compared to another deployment in Iraq, where most of the men already have experience.

"We went to the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California and that terrain we train on is more like Afghanistan than Iraq ... they have been exposed to the terrain and have received training in route clearance and looking for improvised explosive devices. That's the biggest thing, understanding the terrain," Rice said.

The estimated 200 Soldiers also received squad-level training in August 2008 and platoon-level exercises in December 2008.

"The 41st Engineer Company is an elite force with a unique capability that is in demand," said Lt. Col. Robert Whittle, battalion commander. "Make no mistake about it. The greatest assets of the company are the men and women standing before you on the field today. There is still no substitute for the keen eye and great instincts of the American Soldier. These Soldiers are true patriots and they represent America's best."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16