Local reservists doubt they’ll be home by year end

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 23, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
SALISBURY ó Though President Barack Obama announced last week that ěthe rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,î National Guard soldiers based in Salisbury may not be home by then.
Obama said Thursday that troops would begin leaving Iraq in the days ahead.
ěToday, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays,î Obama said, according to a transcript of remarks released by the White House to news media.
But since then, families of service members in C Company, 1/131 Aviation Battalion have heard differently.
On Friday, Capt. Darrell Scoggins, commander of C Company, relayed a message by email to family members.
ěWe will arrive in Kuwait sometime mid December and will remain there until the end of our mission or reassignment to support another mission,î Scoggins said.
ěPlease do not interpret this announcement as an announcement of homecoming or as an announcement of reassignment,î Scoggins said.
He said further notification would be given of any changes in the timetable.
Jessica Elmore, wife of Sgt. Joseph Elmore, said her husband had told her not to get her hopes up for a Christmas homecoming.
She said that, according to the original orders, C Company might not return home until April or May.
ěIíve had to answer questions,î Elmore said. ěIíve got my family members calling me, and Iím having to tell them no, heís not going to be home for Christmas.î
She said she believed Obamaís announcement was meant to win public support for his re-election.
ěThatís a pretty big, bold comment,î Elmore said. ěYouíve got to look at the numbers.î
Donna Gosney, leader of the unitís Family Readiness Group, said she could not comment on a timetable beyond the official statement from Scoggins.
She said care was being taken to keep families fully informed.
ěWe donít want to give any false hope. We want them to see the facts as they unfold,î Gosney said.
To try to dispel any rumors, she said families should focus on what comes directly from the unit commander.
Gosney, whose husband is a soldier in C Company, declined to offer an opinion on Obamaís announcement.
However, she said some family members she had spoken to had expressed frustration about the implied claim that all troops would be home by yearís end.
Gosney said she attempted to contact other family members to comment for this story.
But Gosney said none would speak on the record out of concern for their loved onesí careers in the National Guard.
Meanwhile, C Companyís mission continues.
The unitís UH-60 ěBlackhawkî helicopters are providing aviation support to troops in Iraq.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editorís desk at 704-797-4244.