Wisconsin Army National Guard deploying to Middle East

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ASHLAND, WI–  About 160 soldiers from the Wisconsin National Guard’s 829th Engineer Company will deploy this weekend.

For some, this is their first time overseas for others, it’s another day in the office.

For Sgt. Jessica McInnis it’s  her first deployment to the Middle East.

She’s getting ready for the experience of a lifetime.

She is the first in her family to enlist in the military since her great-grandfather was drafted for World War II.

“There’s a lot of emotions with deploying. There’s a lot of excitement and sadness. It’s only a year,” she says.

For SSG.  Brett Lazich’s, it’s his third deployment, and he’s moving up in the ranks.

A responsibility he’s looking forward to, as he takes on the role of squad leader.

Lazich says, ” For me the new challenge is leading a squad of soldiers. I have 10 soldiers under my command and to make sure they learn all the lessons I had to learn the hard way.”

This group of soldiers will be doing construction on the military bases.

Their work will range from carpentry, electrical, and other construction needs.

Lazich says,  “My group of soldiers specifically we are electricians. So our job over there will be to bring power to the base or re-route existing power.”

These soldier say there’s a bond, others can’t understand.

That’s why the Ashland VFW hosted a breakfast send-off as the soldier pack of their things.

For these veterans, it brings back memories.

VFW Member Andy Traaholt says,  “You spend a year together in a foreign country, dangerous. You don’t know one day to the next, and that just builds a strong bond that only people who have been in that situation  truly understand.”

As they finish packing their bags these soldiers know they have a job to do, whether they’re at home or overseas.

Traaholt wants to remind those at home, how much of a sacrifice these soldiers are making.

He says, “People have to understand the sacrifice of going away from your family and friends, thier jobs for a year is a lot, and it’s a big sacrifice.”

For Lazich it’s, “Just another day really, been there, done that at this point.”

And although it’s her first deployment, McInnis says she’s ready for it, “I’m not afraid to go overseas. I’m not nervous.”

The group heads down to Texas on Saturday, where they’ll be training for about a month.

After that they’ll head to the Middle East, they don’t know where they’ll be stationed at the moment.

Emma Quinn

Emma Quinn

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