Alabama Army National Guard's Presence In Iraq Grows

The next 15 months will be one of endurance for First Lt. Andrew Richardson and his wife of only 2 years, Rebecca.

"I don't like leaving her but I'm excited about going. I have conflicting emotions," said Richardson.

"We still can email each other," Mrs. Richardson said.

Richardson and 14 of his fellow members of the 131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment are about to plant their feet on foreign soil.

"I took a trip to Iraq last year and it will be unlike anything you have ever experienced," said Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

For more than a year the men and women of the public affairs detachment will become eyewitnesses to war and that's not all.

"We'll escort media to the front lines to help them report the stories from the army, and we'll send our stories back to army publications," said Commander Cynthia Bachus of Spanish Fort, Alabama.

"If the soldier has a cushy job we'll be there and if he's on the front lines, we'll reporting from there, too," said Richardson.

This latest deployment increases the Alabama Army National Guard's presence in Iraq to nearly 1,200. They leave Wednesday morning.

This marks the third time this unit has been deployed. In 1996 it was Hungary and Bosnia and then 10 months in Kosovo in 2001.