Thursday, August 26, 2004

Middletown Guard unit may be heading home

By Dan Klepal
Enquirer staff writer

It appears the 70 soldiers from the Middletown-based 324th Military Police Company will be back on familiar soil this week.

After being in Kuwait and Iraq for 15 months, and separated from their families for 18 months, the 324th is to fly to Indianapolis on Friday and stay in Columbus, Ind., for about a week of "demobilization," before returning home.

That's the schedule outlined to family members. Officials with the Adjutant General's Office from the Ohio Army National Guard would not confirm that.

"We don't make any confirmation on arrivals until they're home," said Capt. Nicole Gabriel, a public information officer with the Ohio Army National Guard.

But Rachael Ruchti, wife of Sgt. Joe Ruchti of Newtown, said she's heard the unit will be arriving.

"We've heard Friday, but we don't know much more than that," Rachael Ruchti said. "I'm just looking forward to settling back into a normal life. We might take a vacation, but even just sitting on the couch together will be nice."

The 324th was called up to provide airport security in the days and months after Sept. 11. It was shipped out in May 2003, and scheduled to return home three months ago. But the soldiers were held in Iraq for extended duty.

Rachael Ruchti said she's not getting her hopes up until she wraps her arms around her husband.

"I just don't trust the Army," she said. "I'll believe it when they get into the States."



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