Communities are saying farewell to soldiers deploying to Afghanistan at send-off ceremonies throughout the state this week. Three thousand Iowa National Guard troops will be in Afghanistan by Thanksgiving.
One Monticello family is feeling the effects of the deployment more than most. Three family members are deploying to the Middle East.
“We’re starting to feel it, but I think, like anybody else, we’re about as ready as we’re going to be,” Sergeant First Class Steve Tauke of the A334 BSB said, “I’m nervous. The other day I heard some soldiers got killed…in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘What if?’”
Tauke’s stepson, Private First Class Mike Lindenberg of the 334 BSB said, “I’ve kind of come to terms with it. I knew it was coming. It’s what I signed up to do…I think everybody knows enough to bring themselves, and everyone around them, home safely.”
Tauke and Lindenberg deploy in about a week. They’ll train at Camp Shelby, Mississippi first. Then, they’ll move on to Ft. Irwin, California before heading overseas.
Steve’s other son, Specialist Steven Tauke of the 2nd Bridge 101st, is already in Afghanistan. Steven Tauke called home from Afghanistan Sunday morning and told his family that he’s doing well.
All three family members know they’ll face a lot of uncertainty in the Middle East.
“Things change day by day over there. You never know who’s doing what. You just have to trust the guys around you,” Lindenberg said. “You can’t let the fear overwhelm you or you’ll lose it over there.”
But, they’re more worried about family members they’re leaving behind in Iowa.
“I think it’s going to be a whole lot harder on the people back here because nothing’s really changed for them, except, we’re gone,” Steve Tauke said.
Kim Tauke strives to remain strong for her husband and two sons while they’re away at war. “You do get nervous, but you try not to show the guys that you’re getting nervous and let them know that we do support them,” Kim Tauke said. “We can’t fall apart. We have to move forward and keep things going here at home.”
Kim Tauke also plans to lean on her daughter, Erin Lindenberg, and her son Mike’s fiance, Chelsea Rail, for strength.
“We know the guys are doing what they want to do. So, we will support them,” Kim Tauke said.
The three guys aren’t sure how much they’ll see each other in Afghanistan, but are hoping to cross paths in Afghanistan a few times. Spending time in a war zone with loved ones could make life a little more comfortable for the family of soldiers.
“They can tell by looking at me how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking. You can bluff a lot of people, but you can’t bluff family,” Steve Tauke said.
Thousands of Iowa families will sacrifice precious time with their loved ones during this deployment, but few will ever understand what it’s like to be in this family’s situation.