By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD Pvt. Joel Jean grew up admiring his dad, his hero. As Jean stepped onto an airplane that took him to war Monday evening, he thought his father must be proud of him, too.

Jeans father retired as an Army sergeant first class and works for the Army now as a civilian.

Jean is one of the 4th Infantry Divisions youngest soldiers. He graduated from high school in Virginia just eight months ago. He enjoyed a couple of summer months relaxing, and then he joined the Army.

Nine weeks later, he had graduated from basic military training. After another nine weeks, he graduated from a school that taught him to be a field artillery meteorological crewmember.

Now he will put his skills to work in Iraq.

Its something new, I can honestly say that, Jean said about the upcoming experience.

While 250 4th Infantry soldiers, many new to the Army, join their comrades in Iraq, about 100 1st Cavalry Division soldiers were headed back to a mission they left a few weeks ago.

The 1st Cavalry soldiers deployed early this morning to Pakistan to help with humanitarian missions that have been ongoing since a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit Oct. 8, killing nearly 20,000 people and injuring another 41,000.

The divisions 1st Air Cavalry Brigade sent about 100 soldiers for 56 days of relief work after the hurricane oc-curred. The soldiers returned in December.

The 4th Infantry was just beginning its second yearlong tour in Iraq in December. The division took over Multinat-ional Division-Baghdad in early January.

Most of the 250 soldiers who deployed Monday were delay-ed for medical or administrative reasons, said Staff Sgt. Damian Steptore, a division spokesman. Others deployed in place of those who medically could not go, and others replaced soldiers who have been injured or killed. At least 18 Fort Hood-based 4th Infantry soldiers have been killed during this deployment.

Second Lt. Bryon Vincent heard he might be replacing an injured officer. Hes not quite sure where he will end up when he reaches Iraq, but he is excited he gets to serve the country and use his training.

Vincent graduated from the United States Military Aca-demy at West Point last year. The 4th Infantry is his first assignment.

He arrived at West Point before the war on terrorism began. When terrorists flew airplanes into the Twin Towers, Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, Vincent considered what likely would happen next and whether he wanted to stay at the academy or go to Texas A&M University like he originally planned.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks made it more difficult to stay at the academy, Vincent said. But it was a good education opportunity. Its something my lineage has done.

Vincents grandfathers are veterans, and his dad was drafted for the Vietnam War, though he stayed stateside.

Im anxious to get over there and settle in, Vincent said.

Pvt. Bennett Irby also is looking forward to the new things hell see and learn in Iraq. The 26-year-old joined the Army last summer because he wanted a change from working in the underground plumbing business.

Though he knew he probably would go to Iraq or Af-ghanistan, traveling, challenges and meeting new people were what he wanted out of the Army.

Im excited to see new things, Irby said. Im sure it will be quite the adventure.

The 1st Cavalrys soldiers headed to Pakistan arent sure how much things will be different when they arrive.

This mission is the brigades fourth humanitarian mission in six months. They deployed after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in late August, when Hurricane Rita tore up East Texas in late September and after the earthquake buried parts of Pakistan in October.

Its really nice to be able to make a difference, said Capt. Marc Dalziel, commander of the missions task force. I think everyone gets excited for these (humanitarian) trips.

Contact Emily Baker at

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