In 2002, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division deployed to Kuwait in anticipation of the invasion of Iraq. The unit would gain honors and fame with its remarkable thrust to Baghdad, later immortalized in David Zucchino’s book Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad. It was an operation, however, not without casualties. Ultimately six soldiers were killed during the invasion and approximately ninety others were wounded. On April 7, 2003, a missile struck the brigade’s tactical operations center, killing two soldiers in an event that was widely reported on, with news reaching the brigade’s home at Fort Stewart faster than the casualty notification process could respond.

Ginger Perkins and Cindy Wesley, leaders of the unit’s family readiness group, saw the missile’s aftermath on television and tried to keep the families and themselves together. United as a team, as their husbands were in Iraq, Perkins and Wesley worked hard to keep the unit’s families informed, together, and united as the brigade executed its Thunder Run. This episode of The Spear focuses on their experiences leading, caring, and surviving as they watched their husbands go off to war and then watched that war on television.

Perkins, Wesley, and their spouses were at West Point as part of the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic’s annual Mission Command Conference. You can listen to the entire episode below, and you can also find it on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotifyTuneIn, or wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to subscribe to The Spear so you don’t miss an episode, and while you’re there, please consider giving the podcast a rating and leaving a review to help new listeners find us!

Image credit: Joseph Kumzak