Just talking about the visible worry on his 8-year-old daughter’s face brought tears to the eyes of Spc. Trevor Dawkins.
As he stood, surrounded by his four children and wife in the West Fort Hood Physical Fitness Center Monday night preparing to say goodbye to his family for the next nine months, it was Naeema, his daughter and the oldest child, he was most worried about.
“She takes it the hardest,” said Dawkins, a truck driver preparing for the second deployment of his three-year Army career with the 418th Transportation Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command.
“I let her know what I’m doing, and show her pictures,” he said. “I tell her I’ll do everything I can to come back.”
The company’s 136 soldiers left for Afghanistan Monday night for a mission to haul cargo through tactical convoy operations in order to sustain coalition forces operations across Regional Command-West.
To prepare for the mission, the company visited the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., twice, said Capt. Mark Canary, company commander. Since the unit will also be responsible for its own security and gun trucks, soldiers trained on gun trucks as well as vehicle rollover and roadside bomb simulations.
“We’ll do it all,” Canary said. “We can’t look at this mission just as logistics, or as truck drivers. We have to look at it as if we are infantry going into the fight.”
The company will work to drawdown troops and forward operating bases within the region. American forces are expected to be out of Afghanistan no later than the end of 2014 and over the next year, the number of troops on the ground will drop from 65,000 to 34,000.
Canary said his company must be flexible as the war draws down since changes can occur.
“As the war changes, the mission changes,” he said. “We’ll do what we’ve got to do to make ourselves pliable.”
Sgt. Dennis Robinson, of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, attended the deployment ceremony to see off his brother, Sgt. Carlos Miles, for the third time.
With Robinson’s wife stationed in Korea, and Miles’ wife a veteran, the family is no stranger to goodbyes.
“We’re just there for each other,” Robinson said. “You’ve got to be there for each other and roll with the punches.”
Miles said having children makes it harder to leave, but it’s reassuring knowing his brother is near his family.
While the unit is deployed, Dawkins’ wife, Seema Dawkins, said she plans to keep busy until the soldiers return home. The kids are already looking forward to picking out cookies and candy bars to send to their father downrange. “This deployment came up really fast,” Seema said. “Let’s hope it ends just as quickly.”
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.