VILSECK, Germany - Thousands of people from the Vilseck community gathered to bid farewell to the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment at their deployment ceremony Aug. 3.

The regiment, which received orders to deploy in the spring, is already on its way to a 15-month deployment in Iraq.

"What a difference a year can make," Col. John S. RisCassi, 2nd SCR commander, said to unit Soldiers, who less than 12 months ago moved to Vilseck from Fort Lewis, Wash., and stood up the regiment in a welcoming ceremony.

Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, then-V Corps commander, told the deploying troops they should not have false expectations about going into combat.

"I will venture to say you will face a fight as soon as you hit the ground," Thurman said, adding that he had full confidence in their abilities.

"While many challenges lie ahead, none are insurmountable, because of your outstanding training, dedication and devotion to duty," he declared, calling them "the best fighting formation in the Army."

During the ceremony, the regiment cased its colors, symbolizing the unit's deployment to Iraq.

"It is our honor and privilege to carry these colors into battle," said RisCassi, adding, "We will not let down the members of the regiment, past and present, nor our friends and Family in Vilseck."

In preparation for the coming deployment, the Stryker unit trained in multiple rotations in nearby Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr, culminating with a mission-rehearsal exercise in June.

The deployment ceremony was highlighted by "excitement but anxiousness as well," said Maj. Jon Pendell, 2nd SCR spokesman, because of loved ones that Soldiers will have to leave behind.

"Be confident that your Families will be taken care of," Thurman stressed. To assist, a rear detachment of about a 100 people will remain in Vilseck, which is normal for a unit of the size of 2nd SCR.

Some of the spouses staying behind have already made plans to fill their time during the deployment.

"I will be busy," said Paz Vianey Acevedo, referring to the 15-month separation from her husband, "as there are a lot of Family activities available, (and nearby) castles and amusement parks. Child and Youth Services always have activities, so I will keep the kids busy too."

The 2nd SCR is the oldest regiment in the U.S. Army, formed back in 1836, seeing action in the Civil War, Spanish-American War, both World Wars, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

(Bilyana Atova is a member of the USAG Grafenwoehr Public Affairs Office)