While many soldiers are coming home from Iraq, three brothers from Wisconsin are set to deploy for a year-long mission
EAU GALLE, Wis. — After almost nine years of war, the deployment of soldiers is a familiar scene. But for the Lemke family in northern Wisconsin, it’s a first.
Three of the Lemke brothers are about to deploy on a year-long mission in Iraq, where new soldiers are still needed for dangerous missions despite the overall drawdown of troops.
“I’m definitely looking forward to going, but kind of a little bit scared,” said Lance Lemke, 19. “I don’t even know how to really explain it.”
The brothers are part of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 724th Engineering Battalion. When Lance was called to deploy to Iraq, Greg Jr., 21, and Curtis, 27, volunteered to do the same.
Now it’s their last weekend together, and what’s unspoken is that the brothers are heading into a dangerous line of work. Their battalion will be in charge of clearing routes for coalition forces. This means they may encounter anything from unexploded artillery to roadside bombs.
“Dad doesn’t talk about it a whole lot I guess,” said Greg. “But I know — well, we know he’s, you know, he’s proud of us for going over and everything — just being Dad, you know.”
Support from their family — and from everyone in their tight-knit small town — has helped buoy the brothers’ spirits in the weeks before their deployment.
“A lot of people come up and shake my hand and thank me for serving which feels very good to, to have that,” said Greg. “Just to know that people are behind you and they’re supporting what you’re doing.”
But for the Lemke parents, it’s still hard to see them go.
“I feel like it’s a huge sacrifice,” said Mary, their mother.
“They’re not going to be here for my 10 birthday,” said Ashley, 9, the youngest of the eight children. “I hope like they’ll be here for my 11th, ’cause if they [aren’t] here for my 11th birthday, I’m probably gonna cry.”