LEILA FUJIMORI / LFUJIMORI@STARBULLETIN.COM
"We're going to miss him bad, but watching the kids missing him is worse. He's going to miss out on a lot."
Her husband deploys in November
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Deployment extensions not going over well
Extended tours disappoint and irk isle military families
» Reserve and Guard could also get longer deployment
Some families do not like a new Pentagon policy that extends deployments by three months of Hawaii-based soldiers who will be going to or are already in Iraq.
More than 7,000 Schofield Barracks soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division will spend three months in addition to their standard 12-month deployment in Iraq, under the policy announced yesterday in Washington.
Families were displeased with news that Hawaii-based soldiers who face deployment to Iraq or are already there will have to wait an extra three months before coming home.
"I really don't like it," Ashley Cruz, 19, whose husband will be deploying in November, said at McDonald's restaurant in Wahiawa. "I don't think they should be there at all. They need to pull everybody out."
Cruz is expecting their first child in August, and the Arizona couple just arrived in Hawaii a couple of months ago. She's made a couple of friends so far and plans to stay in Hawaii.
The Pentagon announced a new policy yesterday in Washington that will result in the more than 7,000 Schofield Barracks soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division spending an extra three months in Iraq.
The soldiers, the majority of them assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team that left here last summer, are among the 15,000 troops affected by the policy announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Under the policy, all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve 15-month tours, three months longer than the usual standard deployment.
Many Schofield Barracks soldiers and their families were expecting such an announcement after the Pentagon last week extended by 45 days the tour of the division's headquarters unit, which included its commander, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon. The Tropic Lightning soldiers deployed to Iraq last summer in what was supposed to be a yearlong assignment.
Yesterday's announcement covers all of the Schofield Barracks soldiers in Iraq, including Mixon's headquarters unit. The Pentagon's announcement does not affect the Marines Corps, the Air Force, Navy or the National Guard and Army Reserve.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the deployment extensions are a "difficult but necessary interim step" to stabilize Baghdad.
Celina Malone, 22, said she'll take her 1- and 3-year-old daughters home to Georgia when her husband leaves Schofield for his first deployment.
"We're going to miss him bad, but watching the kids missing him is worse," she said. "He's going to miss out on a lot."
Daughter MacKenzie Malone, 3, piped up: "I don't want him to get hurt."
But 22-year-old Spc. Mike Malone Jr. will leave his family sooner than November. He's off to California in July for training, returns in October, then deploys in November.
Hawaii Air National Guard Capt. Rosemarie Ader, 33, said she may volunteer to serve in Iraq to spare others who have deployed multiple times.
"My brother-in-law has been there three times and my sister has three kids," she said. "If I can bring a husband or a wife home, yeah, I'd like to do my part in the war."
Ader said the lengthier deployment is not fair to people like her brother-in-law, an Army ranger in the infantry, who is already slated to go a fourth time after his return in August.
Amber Marcotte, 21, whose husband deploys in November, is expecting their first child in August. "He's going to miss the first year of our baby," she said.
"I'm just waiting for him to get it all over with," she said.
Reserve and Guard could also get longer deployment
More than 200 Pacific Army reservists and Army National Guard soldiers from Hawaii could be affected by the Pentagon's announcement to extend by three months the deployment of troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There are nearly 130 Army Reserve soldiers belonging to the 657th Area Support Group, stationed at Logistical Support Area Anaconda near Balad, who already have been extended for 30 days in Iraq beyond their March return date.
Yesterday, an Army Reserve spokesman said these citizen soldiers might be covered by the Pentagon's announcement. These soldiers help run the installation at Anaconda.
The Pacific Army Reserve also has an additional 40 soldiers from Hawaii who are members of the 456th Replacement Detachment in Kuwait. The Army Reserve was trying to determine yesterday if these soldiers were covered by the Pentagon's extension order.
On Monday, 70 members of the Hawaii Army National Guard's Black Hawk helicopter unit, stationed in Hilo, reported for 18 months of active duty, 12 of which will be spent in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a Pentagon news conference that current rules call on Army National Guard soldiers to be mobilized for only 12 months with at least a five-year recuperation period before being eligible for another wartime deployment.
The citizen soldiers of Hilo's Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, were the last unit activated under old rules that set the mobilization period at 18 months. A local Hawaii Guard spokesman said he did not believe Gates' order extended to Hawaii's citizen soldiers.