***image1***A man wearing a desert camouflage uniform and armed with an M-16 rifle buried his helmet and desert goggles into the neck of a six-year-old boy who was hooded against the 38-degree drizzle and eyes that might see him cry.
Luis Davila was saying goodbye to his dad, Sgt. Manuel Davila, who he might not see again for a year.
Sergeant Davila, a military policeman, was one of about 200 Soldiers from the 21st Theater Support Command’s 272nd Military Police Company who began his journey to Iraq from Germany.
Getting up-to-date information about Sergeant Davila will be easier for his mother, Kathleen, his sister, Emiluz, 4, and their aunt, Emma Davila, thanks to his father’s Family Readiness Group.
When the 37th Transportation Command, 95th Military Police Battalion unit assembled as a whole for the last time for possibly a year Sunday, the only things the Iraq-bound Soldiers had to focus on were saying their good-byes to their families.
“With so much of this pre-emptive work done ahead of time, families and Soldiers can better concentrate on supporting one another,” said Capt. Jason Marquiss, the commanding officer of the 272nd MPs. “I’m impressed with how well this unit has come together and gotten things done, truly a testament to the dedication of this company.”
The 272nd Soldiers’ tour is expected to be part of a year-long rotation, but the troops and family members of the unit are not worried that they won’t be taken care of, said Captain Marquiss.
The Family Readiness Group works hand in hand with the 272nd taking necessary precautions to try and ensure everything that can be done to protect Soldiers and Soldiers’ families has been done, said Nina Carey, FRG leader.
The group and the unit attempt to equip the families of deployed Soldiers with the ability to take care of problems that might arise in the absence of their loved ones and also provide a little extra help if needed, she said.
The FRG educates families about possible financial situations that may arise over the next year and how to be ready in case such an event should occur.
In addition they provide a taxi service to those who qualify and even babysitting services, she said.
The unit has been training since August of 2002, said Sgt. 1st Class Justin Carey, the 272nd’s rear detachment first sergeant.
These Soldiers have done a great job training and they are ready, he said.
After the Soldiers get down range, the partnership between the FRG and the unit continues.
Communication between the deployed members of the unit and the FRG is vitally important, said Sergeant First Class Carey.
In the event of an emergency, lines of communication need to stay open; information must continue to flow between the Soldiers and families.
He said that in the event of a crisis, one of the most important things that needs to happen is that family members and Soldiers stay calm.
“Soldiers have to focus on the mission, that can’t happen if they’re worried about their families,” said Mrs. Carey. “We want to educate families as much as possible.”
Together, the 272nd and the FRG have coordinated and completed pre-deployment briefings and crisis prevention work shops, helped stomp out rumors, kept lines of communication open between each other, and offered checklists for things that might come up.