From the farms and fields of Arkansas to the deadly streets of Baghdad, Off to War tracks the citizen soldiers of the Arkansas National Guard as they come face to face with the horror of war.
Never before has a single unit of soldiers been followed from the beginning to the end of their deployment at war. In April 2004, filmmakers Brent and Craig Renaud arrived in Iraq with the Arkansas National Guard during one of the bloodiest months to date. Within twenty-four hours of their arrival, one of the guardsmen lay dead. By the end of the first month, the unit had lost more soldiers than any other National Guard Brigade in Iraq.
From actual scenes of full-scale combat to a soldier's funeral, from the birth of a first child to the heartbreaking return home of a critically injured soldier, Off to War tells the story of a war in a way it has never been told before--through the eyes of the soldiers and families back home who endured it.
Episode 3 of 10
In Kuwait, the men prepare their vehicles for the three-day convoy to their new home north of Baghdad. With a shortage of armored vehicles, they spend their last day hammering plywood to the sides of jeeps to protect them from insurgents. Once in Baghdad, the unit was intended to engage in civil missions, but almost immediately it is deployed on combat missions. It is the first time since World War II that this many Arkansas National Guard soldiers have been deployed to a combat zone. Meanwhile, their families back home are terrified by the news that Arkansas soldiers are already dying in Iraq. By the end of the first month in Iraq, the Arkansas National Guard has lost eight men and seen many more injured. Among the injured is Sergeant Wayne Irelan, who is wounded during a mortar attack and is shipped home to an uncertain medical fate.