Fathers, Sons And Brothers: The Call

Iowa National Guardsmen Get The Call To Serve In Iraq

Rarely has our country asked citizen soldiers to shoulder so much of the burden of war. One third of the troops fighting are National Guard and Reserve-more than 400,000 soldiers called away from their civilian lives.

In 2005, the call came for a battalion from the Iowa National Guard, a battalion of many fathers, sons and brothers serving together.

60 Minutes and correspondent Scott Pelley have been following the Iowa guardsmen and their families for nearly two years. And on this Memorial Day weekend, you will see and read about the sacrifices made by soldiers and their families over the long months at war.

The soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the 133rd Infantry left their loved ones with high hopes. Most had never seen combat before and some would never see Iowa again.

In 2005, the call to war spread across the fields of Iowa.

There were about 700 calls to be made: a call to Andy Wendling and his brother, a call to Denver Foote, as he waited in the delivery room for his first baby, and a call to an old soldier, Mike Ites, never sent to war until now.

The battalion is a band of bothers, literally: there's Ryan and Chris Gericke, a student and an electrician; Tom and Jerry Boge; the Moyers brothers; the Parmaters; the Veveras from Iowa City; the Gingrichs, a medical technician and a paramedic; and the Grieners, Mark, a plumber, and Kent, who wants to be a teacher. The list goes on.

Beyond the brothers, there are fathers, sons, uncles, even a husband and wife-one of 22 women in the battalion. Families have been joining the 1st of the 133rd since the Civil War.

After the call in 2005, there were eight weeks for parties and picnics. That's when 60 Minutes met twin guardsmen Denver and Justin Foote, known jokingly among friends as "the feet." Justin stayed behind for officer school, while Denver prepared to ship out. He's been in the guard seven years.

"Quite a few things I like about it," Denver Foote tells Pelley. "The people I work with. The feeling you get, you know, when you're at a football game, you know they play the national anthem. It's an awesome feeling."

When 60 Minutes first met Denver's wife Shannon, she was in labor with their first child, Landen, as the deployment call came on his cell phone.

"So he's shipping out tomorrow. What are you going to do with Landen?" Pelley asks.

"Well I'm just going to turn into 'Supermom.' I'm just doing everything I can to make Landen know who his father is," Shannon Foote replies.

"What are some of the things you're going to be missing?" Pelley asks Denver.

"Gosh, first walk, first tooth, first words," he replies.

"It's hard to think about," Pelley remarks.

Out on the Wendling farm, Andy Wendling was making a last pass on the fields and putting his dream on hold. He was in law school but withdrew just two days before Pelley interviewed him.

He didn't have to go to Iraq but he volunteered to be with his kid brother, Adam.

On the porch back in 2005, when 60 Minutes first started this story, their mission seemed clear.

"What does the Iraq war mean to you, what do you think it's all about?" Pelley asks.

"I think it's about stepping into a situation where, a lot of people didn't have you know, the freedoms that we are afforded everyday. And you know it seemed like basically what they were living under was completely inhumane," Adam Wendling says. "So I think a lot of changes have happened so far and I think the outcome will ultimately be good."