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European edition, Saturday, August 25, 2007

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — A group of Grafenwöhr-based soldiers who make sure other soldiers stay healthy during deployments is on its way to Iraq.

Thirteen personnel from the 71st Medical Detachment said goodbye to family and friends at a ceremony at Grafenwöhr on Friday. The team will be in Iraq for 15 months taking care of preventive medicine for coalition forces, said 421st Multi Functional Medical Battalion commander Lt. Col. Jon Fristoe.

The 71st is one of 13 companies and detachments brought together last year to form the 421st, which performs all deployable medical services other than hospitalization. These include preventive medicine, combat stress assessment, logistics and ground evacuation, Fristoe said.

Maj. Alick Smith, 38, of Clinton, N.J., the 71st Medical Detachment commander, said the work the unit will perform downrange is similar to public health duties that civilians do in the U.S.

“We will check food and air quality and set heat categories (that allow leaders to evaluate risk of heat injury on any given day),” he said.

One of the soldiers deploying with the unit, Sgt. Cheryl Glor, 25, of Cleveland, said the mission will be her first time in Iraq. She previously served six months at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, she said.

“I’ve been wanting to go (to Iraq) for several years. Most of our work is going to be making sure soldiers stay healthy,” she said.

The 71st has been back in Germany just 18 months after previously deploying to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006, Smith said.

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