By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – The last of the 1st Cavalry Division's Special Troops Battalion left Central Texas for Iraq on Saturday. Among the group of 300 to leave was Bianka Adams, a civilian who will deploy with the division as its historian.
For the next 12 months, she will conduct interviews with soldiers, collect artifacts and take in the sights, sounds and smells of Iraq so she can document the division's third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Adams, a native of Sande, Germany, put her name on a U.S. Army Center of Military History list of historians willing to deploy with and document a military unit. Collecting artifacts and documenting a history are typically extra duties for a staff officer, Adams said.
Steven Draper, the division's museum director, went to Iraq in 2004 with a similar mission, she said.
She came to the United States in 1986 after earning a master's degree in German history. She earned a doctorate at a Washington, D.C., university, focusing on the American occupation in Germany after World War II.
She's excited and proud that she was selected to deploy with the 1st Cavalry, though she admitted her experience among soldiers was limited.
"This is as close as I've come to a unit," she said, gesturing to the uniformed men and women surrounding her.
She, too, will wear an Army Combat Uniform for the next year, a "civilian" name tape on her chest.
It felt "sort of strange" to wear the uniform, she said, adding, "I don't want to put on any airs. I'm not a soldier."
She's researched and written about current military units and that experience sparked her curiosity. What is it really like, she asked herself.
Adams and Draper worked together to put together a list of information and artifacts he'd like for the museum's collection. Those included a full Iraqi police uniform and details about how soldiers wear their gear during this deployment. He wants to know what gear they put where and what has changed from previous years, Adams said.
She, like many first-time deployers, dealt with issues like packing and preparing for a year in the Middle East.
She guessed that the heat would present the biggest challenge, and then there's the whole life-as-a-solder thing.
Adams heard that the units sleep in giant tents during their brief stay in Kuwait. She's been camping once before, she said, a look of concern on her face.
"I don't have a clue for what's about to hit me," she said.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at email@example.com or (254) 501-7547.
More to deploy
The last of the 1st Cavalry Division's Special Troop Battalion, including division commander, Maj. Gen. Daniel Bolger, left Fort Hood on Saturday. The battalion, which includes the division headquarters, began departing Central Texas last Sunday. The next 1st Cavalry unit to leave Fort Hood is the 1st Brigade Combat Team. Those flights will begin departing in February. The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade is scheduled to deploy in April.