Guardsmen Say Their Goodbyes

SPOKANE – National Guardsmen from the area gathered at the Spokane Readiness Center Tuesday to say goodbye to their friends and families as they prepare to ship overseas to Iraq.

Approximately 450 Guardsmen with the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team were present at the readiness center where they will board buses Tuesday evening and drive out to Fairchild Air Force Base. From there they will fly aboard commercial airliners to Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin for their final training before heading to Iraq.

The training for many of the Guardsmen will be a refresher course as more than half the soldiers in the 81st Brigade were with the unit back in 2004 during the brigade’s last combat tour. Many have volunteered to serve additional tours with other units in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

This is the second time soldiers of the 1st of the 161st Infantry, one of the combat arms battalions of the 81st Brigade, have faced saying goodbyes to their families. Among them is Specialist Joel Doubeck, who served his first combat tour back in 2004 with the brigade.

“I know what to expect basically last time I went over I was more scared than I am now,” SPC Doubeck said.

Like many guardsmen Doubeck came home in 2005 and went back to civilian life. An employee at Sacred Heart Medical Center, he met a girl, fell in love and they just hard their first child, Dakota, seven weeks ago.

Now as Joel Doubeck is preparing to go into harm’s way, Amy McCorkle is gearing up for a year of single parent duties.

“I know that what he has to do is pretty dangerous and that he’ll also been missing us every day,” Amy said. “Now I’ve got a child to take care of but I’ve got the support of my family.”

The 1-161 Infantry will spend a year in-country escorting convoys that bring troops the food, fuel and supplies they need for their operations. It’s dangerous duty but a critical part of American success in Iraq.

“I think we’re going to be doing some good. I mean I love the military so anything they tell me to do I’ll do it,” SPC Doubeck said.