Editor’s note: The 1544th Transportation Unit provides military support to the mail convoy missions run in Iraq by the “Iron Pony Express,” a group of civilian truckers, many of whom are OOIDA members. Late Friday, Oct. 8, the Department identified the soldier who was killed as Spc. Jessica L. Cawvey, 21, of Normal, IL.
The home of the 1544th Transportation unit, Paris, IL, faces another loss. Details are few, but the 1544th was hit sometime Wednesday night during a convoy run near Fallujah.
This is the second deadly attack on the Wabash Valley unit.
Two soldiers were killed during the Labor Day weekend. Now the community waits and wonders whose family member or friend it is this time.
In front of the Army National Guard building in Paris there use to be only four white crosses, but now there are five.
“You don’t know who it is and that’s the hardest part. You don’t want it to be anybody,” said Paris resident Penny Duzan.
Families in Paris and surrounding communities who have solders in the 1544th see every member of the unit as family.
“There’s no way to prepare for it. It’s just something when it happens you have to deal with it minute by minute. You know day by day you take each moment as it is and deal with it and go on. There’s no way to truly prepare you know to handle this,” explained Steve Wirth of the 1544th Family Readiness Group.
The town is proud of how its residents have handled and supported the troops, and families are ready to do it again.
“We all support them. We greatly appreciate them. I can’t even think of proper words to say as to how grateful we are for what our troops do for us and for our freedom,” said Margaret Thomason of Paris City Council.
The waiting for the families is the hardest after they get word of an attack.
“The notification period in which families have to wait from the time you find out there’s been an incident to the time you actually find out who was involved, you do a lot of soul searching. You do a lot of praying. You talk to other family members to get support until we hear who’s all involved,” said Wirth.
Right now Paris prays for their solders and their families and hope there are no more crosses added in front of the home of the 1544th.
– By Stephanie Miller
Reprinted with permission from WTHI Channel 10 based in Terre Haute, IN.