ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Another military base town, Fort Carson, Colorado, held memorial services last week for seven different soldiers killed in Iraq. Their unit, the Second Brigade Combat Team of the Second Infantry Division, has lost more than 100 dead in the war. Still, thousands of other troops at the Colorado base continue training to go back to the war, many for the third time.
From member station KRCC, here's Eric Whitney.
(Soundbite of "Amazing Grace")
ERIC WHITNEY: Ceremonies honoring fallen soldiers have become grimly routine at Fort Carson. This one is different because it's memorializing five men at once. They all died together in the single deadliest incident for soldiers from this base since the war began. One was 24-year-old Sergeant Michael Martinez, whose father Manuel served in Vietnam.
Sergeant MICHAEL MARTINEZ (U.S. Army): You know, I've seen what war can do to our young people. I felt that I paid our dues for our family in the military, and I never really believed that any of my sons will ever join the military as a whole. But he really believed in it.
(Soundbite of crowd)
WHITNEY: A few days earlier, at a Fort Carson park, soldiers' kids swarmed over a parked tank and Bradley fighting vehicle, crawling in the hatches and sighting down their machine guns. It's a family picnic for soldiers from another Fort Carson brigade that's been stateside for nine months. They expect to be deployed back to Iraq at the end of the year.
Chad Rhodes(ph), who was pushing his 18-month-old son in a stroller, says he doesn't let news of Army casualties get to him.
Mr. CHAD RHODES: I mean, granted, those are your buddies, your brothers in arms. But everybody understands fully the job that they take. And there is always that possibility. So it doesn't really put a damper on day to day, but you know, it just helps you be more aware. You know, those guys died doing what you're going to be doing. Just - you really have to keep an eye after yourself.
WHITNEY: Army wives, though, say it's tough to block thoughts of the danger their husbands are in. Laura Osgood's(ph) husband is preparing for his third tour in Iraq.
Ms. LAURA OSGOOD: The first one didn't go so well because he was shot four times.
WHITNEY: Osgood says she relies on the family readiness groups the Army helped set up for loved ones of deployed soldiers and tries to stay busy to keep her mind off of the war.
Ms. OSGOOD: I have children. I kept them busy, keep myself busy, and you don't sit there and concentrate on anything that's bad.
WHITNEY: Another Army wife, Linda Howardson, says her husband's next tour is going to be tougher. She's got four kids to take care of and isn't happy that the Army is now requiring most soldiers to stay deployed for three months longer than the normal 12-month combat rotation.
Ms. LINDA HOWARDSON (Army Wife): A year was bad enough, but 15 months is worse. I don't like it. I want to wring the Army's neck for sending your husband 15 months to Iraq. Just got to deal with it.
WHITNEY: Colonel John Hort(ph) commands the brigade Howardson's husband serves in. He says that when his troops got back from Iraq last November, he could see the strain on soldiers and their families.
Col. JOHN HOWARD (U.S. Army): And to be honest with you, I was tired when I got back and I could tell that this brigade, when they got back, that they were tired. You know, be tired of, you know, they're wearing the uniform every single day and always really fighting every day as well. And I think that's a natural feeling to have.
WHITNEY: But, Hort says, it's important that his soldiers don't let news of a particularly deadly attack on other Fort Carson troops distract them.
Mr. HOWARD: You have to stay focused on the mission, and that's part of our leader - as a leader, that's what our job is, to keep focus on that. Because if you lose your focus and you lose your composure, then you lose momentum, and you could potentially lose whatever part of the Iraq that you're in, if you allow the enemy to win through that loss. And that's as simple as I can put it.
WHITNEY: There's a good chance that Colonel Hort's troops will face the same kind of tough block-to-block fighting in Iraq that can kill five or more soldiers in one attack. But the same repeated deployments that are so hard on families also produce soldiers with the kind of combat experience that he says will keep them safe.
For NPR News, I'm Eric Whitney in Colorado Springs.
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