Mississippi guardsmen in Iraq refused leave time
By Washington Post
09/11/05 "Knox News" -- --
BAGHDAD - Scores of Mississippi National Guardsmen in Iraq who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina have been refused even 15-day leaves to aid their displaced families, told by commanders there are too few U.S. troops in Iraq to spare them, according to guardsmen.
About 600 members of the Mississippi Guard's 155th Brigade Combat Team, posted south of Baghdad, live in the parts of southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana hit hardest by Katrina, Maj. Neil F. Murphy Jr., a spokesman with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, said by e-mail Saturday. The brigade is attached to the expeditionary force.
Guard members and relatives said in e-mails or telephone interviews that virtually all of the roughly 300 soldiers of the 155th Brigade's B and C companies had their homes destroyed or severely damaged in the hurricane. Eighty Mississippi Guard members have been granted emergency leave, Murphy said. The rest have been refused leave, told by their brigade command that all other forward operating bases "are tapped out and cannot send troops," one Mississippi Guard member wrote in an e-mail that was shared by a family member.
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