ALTOONA, Pa. (March 20, 2010) - Nearly 200 Army Reserve Soldiers from across the country gathered at the U.S. Army Reserve Center here March 11 in preparation for a year-long deployment to Iraq.

The Soldiers, coming from 16 states, traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, March 12 to begin several weeks of training before deploying.

The 298th Support Maintenance Company will perform maintenance and repairs on mechanical and electrical equipment such as vehicles and generators in Iraq. The unit will bring its own equipment, and Soldiers have been receiving special training to prepare for the deployment, said Capt. Jim Grassmyer, unit commander.

As part of their mission, Soldiers will also prepare equipment for shipment back to the U.S. as part of President Barack Obama's 2011 withdrawal deadline.

About 30 percent of the unit has deployed before, according to Grassmyer. Those Soldiers have been sharing their experiences, knowledge and training with those who have not deployed to help prepare them.

The training Soldiers have been receiving has gone well, according to 1st Sgt. Scott Hartman. The biggest challenge has been coordinating and organizing the large number of Soldiers for the mission. Arranging flights and transferring Soldiers from other units are only some of the tasks which have been undertaken to fill vacant positions in the unit.

Despite the challenges, Soldiers have maintained a positive attitude.

"I knew it was coming," said Sgt. Garry W. Hinton, an armament repairer. "Maintenance jobs come up, we've got to do them. We're very well prepared, and I'm confident in my ability and in those around me." Hinton leaves behind his wife, who has come to terms with his deployment, he said.

"Everyone's doing pretty good," said Spc. Jeremy Ginovsky, a power-generator equipment repairer. "I've been getting things ready to leave, so I won't have any worries once I'm gone."

Grassmyer, who deployed with a transportation company as a lieutenant, voiced his absolute confidence in his Soldiers ability to carry out their mission after watching them come together so quickly.

"I couldn't be more proud of this unit," Grassmyer said. "I'm ready to get to the [mobilization] site and start the mission."