About 95 soldiers with the Iowa National Guard’s 109th Medical Battalion are preparing for a year long mission in Egypt. For many of the soldiers with the Iowa City-based unit, it will be their first tour of duty. That’s the case for Specialist Lisa Watts.
"Oh sure, I’m nervous," Watts admits, "being away from your family for a year…that in itself makes you nervous." Specialist Ashley Brake was married about one year ago. Her husband is serving in Iraq and now she’s heading to Egypt.
"We knew this was going to happen with the deployments," Brake says, "it’s part of the job. It comes with the territory. It’s our country and that’s what we’re here to do." Watts is glad she and the other soldiers are not going to Iraq or Afghanistan.
"It’s going to be easier to keep in touch with our families. And, I think our families will be more relaxed because we’re not in as hazardous an area as Iraq," Watts said. The 109th did go to Iraq five years ago. The unit will help with logistical and medical support during the mission to Egypt. A send-off ceremony is being planned for early next month. The soldiers will leave for Egypt in March or April.