FAYETTEVILLE —Emran Huda a UNC public health graduate student sat dressed in his Army camouflage among the nearly 4000 soldiers of North Carolina's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
He and the crowd were quiet and pensive as Gov. Bev Perdue and others addressed the soldiers. Many families stood outside in the rain because the coliseum was at maximum capacity. Others watched from a nearby overflow center with video screens.
Huda along with the rest of the 30th Brigade awaited the end of his deployment ceremony Tuesday at the Cumberland County Coliseum Complex in Fayetteville. In the coming days" the UNC graduate and the rest of his division are set to be redeployed to Iraq.
""Obviously there's a human amount of fear" but that's why we have all this training" Huda said.
Huda first went to Iraq in 2003 and served as an infantry radio officer and rifleman.
He heard of his current deployment in October 2007 when he had just begun his master's degree program at UNC. He immediately left school because he felt there would be too much going on for him to focus on his studies, he said. He now he serves as medical platoon leader and medical operations officer for the 1-252 division.
As an officer, this deployment will be slightly different.
I think of myself less and my soldiers first" Huda said. If I haven't eaten and they haven't eaten" they eat first.""
Huda is responsible for making all of the tactical considerations for his team" which includes two treatment teams a physician a physician's assistant and a senior medic. He also trains Iraqi health professionals to care for their people independently.
Though Huda and the rest of his battalion have been training for about four months" he said the hardest part about what he does is leaving his family.
""I have a sense of adventure about it"" he said. But my family is feeling the absence of a son.""
Huda's father" Shamsul Huda said it isn't an easy feeling to have his son leave. But since it will be the second time his son will be deployed" he is more prepared.
""Once you get used to a difficult situation" it gets easier" Shamsul Huda said, adding the main thing his family does to support his son is to pray and encourage him. You cannot succumb or show weakness. In fact"" you have to do just the opposite.""
Huda will leave with just two duffle bags"" a ""rucksack"" or large backpack"" a trunk and carry-on. He said he thinks his experience in Iraq will help with his education because his ultimate goal is to work on global health projects.
""You can't take anything for granted"" Shamsul Huda said. I hope he'll be prepared to make other major decisions in his life and difficult ones.""
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