DES MOINES, Iowa (10/21/2012) - Since 2001, soldiers from all over the Army and from all walks of life have been deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom and countless other theaters of operation. With these deployments comes the difficult task of dealing with the separation from those we love and care about. This task doesn't just fall on the soldiers deploying, but also upon the shoulders of the friends and families of our brave comrades. Once again, soldiers from the 372nd Engineer Brigade are heading out the door to go to war.
Spc. Jesse Thorsen of Kansas City Mo., a Combat Engineer from the 402nd Engineer Company out of Des Moines, Iowa, holds his 3-month-old baby girl Cara Thorsen, during the units last family day before mobilizing to Afghanistan, October 20, 2012. Photo by Army Sgt. Clifford Coy
One such unit is the 402nd Engineer Company, based in Des Moines, Iowa. For some 402nd soldiers, this is just another day in the Army, but for others, this will be their first time in a combat zone. This, however, is not Spc. Joshua Pauer's first time leaving his family to deploy.
Pauer, from Wayzata Minn., who is a combat engineer with the 402nd Engineer Company, out of Des Moines, Iowa, joined the Army in 2008 when he was 23, and knew that he was due to deploy before he even attended basic training. He deployed with the 372nd Engineer Brigade to Afghanistan in 2009-2010 shortly after finishing his advanced individual training and is currently mobilizing to go back. This time he will be with the 402nd Engineer Company.
"When I first found out that I was going to mobilize and deploy I was absolutely terrified,” said Pauer. “I just remember going to Fort Snelling with my recruiter to see my unit before I even went to basic training and it said good luck in Afghanistan on the wall and my heart sank. I was very nervous but that was mostly due to the lack of knowledge on what I was going to be doing. I hadn't been to basic training so my confidence as a soldier was next to nothing. When I got out of basic and AIT, I was excited and ready to do my job and contribute to a nation that has given me so much."
Whether attending for training or going on a deployment, leaving your family is never an easy thing to do. Families take on more responsibility when their soldiers are gone and also have to deal with constantly worrying about their loved ones' safety. This is why it is important to have a strong relationship with them while they are away, because no matter how easy
the deployment is, it's not that easy to be away from those you love.
Luckily Pauer has the strong backing of friends and family to include his father Bob Pauer from Scottsboro, Ala., who attended the 402nd's going-away ceremony, Oct. 20, in Des Moines.
"When I found out he was deploying it was a bitter sweet moment for me as a parent,” said Bob Pauer. “I love him and I want him to do what makes him happy. But yet you are worried and have a little concern. Also it was what he wanted and it's what he seems to thrive at and what he is good at."
Another person that helped him through his deployment was his girlfriend of six years, Ashley Conrad of Lakeville, Minn., who also attended the going-away ceremony.
"Ashley knew that I wasn't always going to be able to talk to her and when I did talk to her she knew that I didn't always have that much time to talk,” said Pauer. “So we wouldn't focus on the negative things that were going on in life, we would just talk about the positive things. Her understanding and knowing all that from the get go of my deployment was crucial because talking to her was obviously the highlight of my day or week."
For most soldiers today, it doesn't take a lot of effort to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Most forward operating bases have both internet access and phones that are readily available for soldiers to use. And of course, there is the traditional postal service way to get in touch with people back home.
"From the time we mobilized to the time we deployed, the military did a good job of setting up ways to get in contact with your family,” said Pauer. “Everywhere I went, there was a USO where you could make calls to your family and let them know you're okay."
Pauer said that if both the soldiers and families have good communication and understanding with each other during a deployment, it will make the process smoother for everyone involved.
"I expect a lot of good stories to come from this deployment,” said Pauer. “There should be lots of joking around and lots of seriousness at the same time when you need to get business done. I expect to go over there and do what we need to do with helping out whoever we can over there, including our own coalition forces and the local populace, being proud of what we do and of course coming home safely."
By Army Sgt. Clifford Coy
Provided through DVIDS
Comment on this article