Third ID Reacts to Extended Deployment - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/16/03

Third ID Reacts to Extended Deployment

A few more soldiers arrived home from Iraq on Tuesday at Hunter Army Airfield. Half of the group is from the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, others are from the Apache and Blackhawk Helicopter Battalions. The reunion was also bittersweet for many of the soldiers after leaving hundreds behind in Iraq who won't be home for awhile.

Members of the 3rd ID still in Iraq remain under fire from Iraqis who don't want them there. Troops say they're ready to go home, but their orders were extended indefinitely.

Sergeant Thomas Slago with the 3rd ID said, "They just keep giving us dates, and the dates keep getting pushed back day by day."

And month by month, the 3rd ID's commander, General Buford Blount, says although troops are disappointed it's not affecting their mission.

"Morale is good and we are doing a lot to work on the quality of life," says General Buford Blount.

But some soldiers say it's coming at the expense of the quality of their own lives.

Sergeant Eric Wright said, "These guys are hanging in there. They do their jobs, but you can't help but to notice the looks on their faces. They are exhausted. They are physically and mentally exhausted to the point that some would hope that they get wounded so they can go home. Just shoot me I want to go home."

The Third Infantry's Second Brigade left for the Middle East back in September.

Reported by: Holly Bristow, hbristow@wtoc.com

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