11/14/04 — Local Guard may return in January

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Local Guard may return in January

By Wire
Published in News on November 14, 2004 2:09 AM

From AP and staff reports

A National Guard unit, whose 5,000 members include Wayne County residents, is expected to return from Iraq by the end of January, the nation's top Army National Guard official said.

The 30th Heavy Separate Brigade, which has its headquarters in Clinton, will not be home by Christmas, said Lt. Gen. Roger Schultz, director of the Army National Guard at the National Guard Bureau.

The 230th Support Battalion is part of the brigade and two of its units, the Charlie Medical Company and the Headquarters Company, are based in Goldsboro. More than 250 soldiers combined from these two units were deployed.

Schultz was interviewed Friday at a conference of military reporters and editors in Arlington, Va. The 30th Heavy Separate Brigade left North Carolina in February and March. Its members have been responsible for security and other duties in a broad area of Iraq northeast of Baghdad.

Schultz said that a replacement unit for the 30th has already begun arriving in Iraq. Tens of thousands of fresh troops will rotate into the country this winter. The old and new units will overlap in January to bolster security for the planned national elections in Iraq.

He was careful to say that the plans could change, depending on circumstances in Iraq.

Family members of those with the brigade said Friday night that the official announcement did not surprise them.

Although Schultz's confirmation was the first official announcement of the brigade's return, several families have heard from soldiers that the end of the brigade's tour might be imminent.

"We were told yesterday that they're already breaking camp," said Diane Russ, whose husband serves in the 196th Cavalry Platoon out of Elizabethtown.

Russ said the group was originally scheduled to return by Feb. 29, but now, some family members think the troops might be back by late December, earlier than the official prediction.

"It's really according to how this election stuff goes on," Russ said, referring to the Iraqi elections. "It's not written in stone. The president is subject to changing his mind like everyone can."