Soldiers from Iowa will be far from home as their families celebrate Christmas at the end of this week. Major Laurel Williamson of Des Moines is on her first overseas deployment to Iraq, and says it’s tough being away from her husband and children during this time of year.

“But I have a second family here, so you find ways to enjoy their company and celebrate with them and know that everyone misses their families the same and you just bond together the best you can,” Williamson says. Williamson is stationed with the 103rd Sustainment Command Unit at Balad Airbase north of Baghdad. She says Iowa soldiers are deeply involved in wrapping up the U.S. mission in Iraq.

Williamson says, “There are Iowa soldiers doing a lot of different missions here. I know we are doing a mostly logistics mission, we’re doing sustainment, getting the supplies the soldiers need to do their jobs.” Williamson was deployed in April of this year and is due to return to home to her family in April 2011. She says one enduring memory of her time in Iraq will be the unrelenting summer heat.