Fort Carson unit that lost seven in Iraq returning |

Fort Carson unit that lost seven in Iraq returning

Chief Warrant Officer Delmar Dewey and his daughter, Amelia, 1, look out on the flight line following the farewell ceremony for the 571st Medical Company (Air Ambulance) at Fort Carson, Colo., Thursday morning, Dec. 9, 2004. Dewey is an instructor pilot with the 571st. About 120 soldiers will deploy to conduct air ambulance missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit also provides emergency movement of personnel, equipment and supplies.(AP Photo/The Gazette, Kevin Kreck)

FORT CARSON ” Members of a small unit that lost seven soldiers during its last deployment to Iraq are getting ready to return next month.

The Army gave the 120-member 571st Air Ambulance Medical Company, which uses helicopters to evacuate wounded soldiers to hospitals, a going-away ceremony Thursday. Members were then granted a short leave.

“I’m just really proud of them and what they do,” said Amanda Gallagher, who is married to Capt. Brady Gallagher. Like two-thirds of the unit, he is going on his second deployment to Iraq.

Tracy Turner and her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Turner, said they were going to spend as much time as possible together during his time off.

The 571st returned from its first yearlong deployment to Iraq in April. While there, two of its helicopters crashed during rescue missions. One was shot down and all its passengers ” four crew members and five patients ” died.

Members of the unit were awarded 226 medals, including 13 Bronze Stars.

The 571st’s commander, Maj. Erik Rude, said the combat experience has helped make the unit stronger and training back at home should make them safer this time.

“My priority every day will be taking care of these soldiers,” he said.

Chief Warrant Officer Todd Tyler joined the unit last summer and said he was worried at first about joining a group that had suffered so many casualties.

“That was before I got here,” he said. “Now I understand.”

The post outside Colorado Springs expects to send about 8,000 soldiers to Iraq by March.

Members of the 10th Special Forces group, a unit that includes nearly 1,000 soldiers, recently left the post in a secret deployment.

Approximately 1,800 members of the 43rd Area Support Group began deploying to Kuwait last month, and will continue to depart for several more weeks. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, with about 5,200 soldiers in the unit, is scheduled to begin deploying for Iraq as early as February for a tour of duty expected to last about a year.

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