CASEY FARRAR REPORTS FROM IRAQ: MAINTAINING ORDER
Sgt. First Class Rebecca A.M. Chasse of Spofford, left, and her daughter, Spc. Sarah Welch of Pennsylvania, deployed to Tikrit, Iraq, together with the Keene-based 220th Transportation Company. Both work in the unit’s motor pool, where vehicles are repaired and maintained.

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — The time and distance of overseas military deployments can strain even the closest family.

Mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses and children back home worry about the safety of loved ones they can see only on grainy video images over the Internet, or check in using e-mail or snail mail.

Few family members share the deployment experience as Spofford’s Sgt. First Class Rebecca A.M. Chasse and her daughter, Spc. Sarah L. Welch, have.

They belong to the Keene-based 220th Transportation Company’s maintenance platoon, and for the past four months have worked side-by-side in Iraq.

The two, who share the same shy smile and expressive eyes, say they’ve always gotten along well and this experience has made them closer than ever.

“Not many people can say they’ve done this,” said Welch, a Johnstown, Pa., resident. “With it being my first deployment, having the experience together is amazing.”

Chasse, 48, previously deployed in 2004 to Baghdad with a unit of Pennsylvania-based Army reservists.

She moved to Spofford about two years ago to take a full-time job with the 220th, and last year, when she learned she’d be heading back to Iraq, the youngest of her two daughters decided to join her.

Chasse’s oldest daughter, 25-year-old Rachelle M. Welch, is also an Army Reservist. She considered joining her mother and sister overseas, but that changed when she learned she was expecting her third daughter, they said.

“I think sometimes it’s hard for her that we’re over here together and she’s there,” Sarah Welch said. “We’ve always been really close.”

The Welch sisters even enlisted in the Army Reserve on the same day.

When the unit’s deployment ends next year, Sarah Welch, 23, plans to finish her undergraduate degree in psychology and wants to get a graduate degree in elementary education so she can become a teacher.

Chasse plans to serve a few more years with the Army until she’s eligible for retirement. Then, she wants to return to her native Bangor, Maine, and open a family bar and restaurant with her daughters.