Friends and family of the 926th Medical Detachment (Preventive Medicine) gathered at the Sightseeing Chapel to watch the unit case its colors Friday in preparation of its upcoming deployment to Iraq.
The 13-member unit will join the 1st Medical Brigade based at the Victory Base Complex in Iraq to provide preventive medicine support to Multi-National Division — Baghdad Soldiers. The unit provides sanitary inspections, epidemiological support, industrial hygiene and air, water and soil sampling.
“Today marks a very sober but noble moment for the 926th,” said MAJ Sidney Cobb Jr., commander of the detachment. “We are serving in an extraordinary and complex time in Iraq and our mission will be a vital one: to preserve unit combat effectiveness by providing world-class preventive medicine support.”
This will be the third time the unit has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom but its mission will differ slightly from the previous two.
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“Because of the drawdown in Iraq, we will be involved in a lot of base camp closures to ensure those areas are left in the same, if not better, condition,” Cobb said.
The unit will be responsible for testing the soil, air and water for harmful contaminants in addition to its ongoing mission of preventing disease and noncombat-related illness in troops.
SFC Jennifer Bohanon, the detachment’s first sergeant, said the most exciting part of the unit’s mission may be its location: Baghdad.
“It will be a historical moment for our guys to get in there and see where it all began,” she said.
As the troops prepare for a deployment in the coming weeks, Bohanon said the focus will be on spending time with family and touching up on job skills.
Sydney McNabb, 6, has already planned out family time with her dad, SSG Daryl McNabb. “Disney World,” Sydney said. The rest, she said, is a secret.
Words from the FRG leader:
Rene Puente, the mother of the unit’s executive officer, LT Amanda Gonzalez, has taken on the role of family readiness group leader. Puente’s husband returned in December 2008 from a 19-month tour in Iraq working as a private contractor. Her advice to families is to stay in touch.
“Postcards and letters may sound archaic, but it means a lot to the Soldiers,” Puente said. “And get Skype so you can see their faces and they can enjoy seeing the faces of their children.”
Family members can e-mail and get updates at the 926th’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com. Other resources for family members include the 14th Combat Support Hospital’s rear detachment and www.militaryonesource.com.