The 17th Corps Support Battalion held a farewell ceremony yesterday at Schofield Barracks for its 250 members being deployed to Iraq. Army Spc. Jennie Baudendistel hugged and kissed her 2-year-old daughter, Caitlin, after receiving a lei. She is leaving while her husband, Staff Sgt. Theo Baudendistel, stays home.

More troops prepare
for Iraq duty

250 members of a support
battalion will spend a year overseas

Army Sgt. Darlene Shakur, a soldier and mother of two, will leave Schofield Barracks later this month on her first and possibly last deployment of her nearly 20-year career.

"I'll probably retire after this one," said Shakur, 38, who will leave behind her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Shakur.

The Shakurs were among the 250 members of the 17th Corps Support Battalion, which held a farewell ceremony yesterday at Schofield Barracks' Hamilton Field. The battalion, whose jobs range from cooks to providing laundry and motor pool services, is part of the 45th Core Support Group.

Lt. Col. Patricia Matlock, battalion commander, said the 250 soldiers will join 100 members of the 540th Quartermaster Company, which left Schofield Barracks in January for Mosul. They are expected to be in Iraq for a year.

"I will gain another 700 Reserve, National Guard and active-duty soldiers," said Matlock, whose soldiers work in supply, maintenance and administration.

Already in Iraq are 4,500 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Two months later another 5,500 soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team left Wahiawa for a year in Afghanistan.

During the 11 years the Shakurs have been married, the longest time they have been separated has been about 30 days for field exercises.

"One of us were always back and with our boys," said Jerry Shakur, 38. "It generally worked out for us." He is stationed at Tripler Army Medical Center, where he is in charge of training and educational services.

Darlene, a 1984 Radford High School graduate, said this time she knew it would be different.

That meant she had to be "upfront" with their sons, Nicholas, 10, and Brandon, 7. "I told them I was deploying to Iraq and that I would be gone for a year. I told them the truth," she said.

Her husband said he has "mixed feelings" about being left behind.

"My first thoughts are as a husband," said Jerry, who served as a medic in the 1991 Gulf War as a member of the 2nd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. "My wife being deployed means the family will have to step in and support her.

"As a soldier I know she is well trained."

This is Matlock's second combat deployment. In 1993 she deployed with the 10th Mountain Division to Somalia as commander of Headquarters and Alpha Company of the 210th Forward Support Battalion. However, she said she had more time to train for this combat assignment.

"We were in Somalia for about five months, but from the beginning we didn't know just how long we were going to be there," Matlock added. "This time, we have a beginning and ending."



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