Thursday, August 14, 2003


I've never heard of anything like this...good for them.
Long after the rest of the newly formed unit won the war and came home, the “Ninja Squirrels” still are baking in the Iraqi desert. Dismayed to learn the soldiers’ commanders planned to keep the platoon past one year — some as long as 16 months — in the interest of unit cohesion, their wives got busy writing letters and buttonholing generals.

“We’ve already done one set of holidays alone, and now we [were] looking at another,” said Colleen Carroll, whose husband, Capt. Mike Carroll, is the 5/158th Aviation’s personnel officer. “It’s a bizarre situation. I don’t know how it happened.”

Their lobbying has apparently paid off.

After two months of being told their husbands would spend a second winter in the Middle East, the wives found out Sunday that the unit has agreed to send the “Ninja Squirrels” home in October.

“We fully expect that these guys will come home after one year,” said Col. Roger King, U.S. Army Europe spokesman. “We’re going to stick to it in every case possible.”

King said his command wasn’t aware of plans to keep the “Ninja Squirrels” downrange so long until he received a query from Stars and Stripes last week. The query followed USAREUR commander Gen. B.B. Bell’s Aug. 4 memo stating V Corps units and troops would not have to stay in the Middle East past one year.

“This thing is being discussed at a lot of different levels,” King said. “This is all evolving as we go. We haven’t been in a situation quite like this before.”

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