596th says farewell to Germany, prepares for Iraq deployment
GRIESHEIM, Germany — More than 200 soldiers of the 596th Maintenance Company got their farewell Friday, a day after getting final marching orders for Iraq.
This week, the unit leaves for its second one-year hitch to Iraq since May 2003.
The soldiers had prepared for the deployment for months, but the news that they will leave in just a few days still came as a bit of a shock, said company 1st Sgt. Darrold Harper before the farewell ceremony for his unit.
But the soldiers and their families exuded confidence as the deployment loomed.
Pvt. Angie Ferrin, 22, from Puyallup, Wash., joined the Army nine months ago knowing she’d likely go to war. She’s looked forward to the deployment since arriving in Germany in June.
“It’s a good experience to have,” Ferrin said. “Everyone has their own story, but you’ve got to go down for yourself to get your own story.”
Harper said about 40 percent of his troops have deployed before, and he’s relying on them to help the new soldiers adjust to life in a combat zone.
“They’ve been there, they’ve done it, they know what to expect,” said Harper, who has done two tours in Iraq, once for Desert Storm and once in this war.
Families of soldiers are relying on experience as well.
Jennifer Ario, 33, wife of Spc. Brian Ario, said she’s better prepared for this deployment than when her husband left with the 596th in 2003.
During that deployment, Ario lived near family in the Duluth, Minn., area. There weren’t people around who understood what she was going through, and that was hard, she said.
Now living in Germany, with a legion of experienced Army spouses who know what she’s going through close at hand, Ario said she’s more confident as her husband prepares to leave again.
“This time I have the support of my community,” she said.
That doesn’t mean she’s looking forward to the separation.
“I’m sad, but at the same time I know that God’s going to be there for him,” said the mother of four.
Nadean Alvarado, 33, also has dealt with deployment before. Her husband, Sgt. Juan Alvarado, deployed to Jordan and to Kuwait before getting orders for Iraq.
“It’s all part of it if you’re in the Army,” she said. “It’s not the first time, so I know what to expect.”
For her, the hardest part of deployments isn’t what the separation does to her, but how it affects her children, ages 6 and 11, who miss holidays and birthdays with their father, as well as simply talking with him.
“You have to be strong for the kids,” she said.
That her husband will be gone for a year is a fact that still hasn’t hit her, Alvarado said. “When he actually leaves, then it will.”