Nearly four thousand Northwest-based soldiers are about to deploy for nine months to Afghanistan. The Army’s 2nd Stryker Brigade received a formal send off Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma Washington. The departure comes amid continuing fallout from the case of suspected Afghan shooter Sgt. Robert Bales.
As an Army band played, soldiers in fatigues lined up by battalion on a parade field. In the stands sat, proud and worried family members like Wendy Mertka. She fought back tears as she spoke of her son’s first deployment.