Thirteen members of Green Bay’s 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion have returned earlier than expected from their peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and the rest of the unit isn’t far behind.
Groups of the Army reservists are set to begin returning by mid-June, with everyone home by mid-August, Sgt. Connie McNamara said Wednesday night.
When the Green Bay-based 432nd began leaving in January, they were expecting to be in Bosnia for at least nine months.
“Of course anything can change at this point, but this is what we are looking at now,” McNamara said at an Army Family Support Group meeting at the Reserve Center, 1168 W. Mason St.
The 80 reservists left for Bosnia in staggered groups beginning Jan. 4 as part of 20,000 U.S. troops participating in the NATO peacekeeping mission.
Although the soldiers and their families were told to plan on a 270-day mission, other reservists from other states have been placed on alert as replacements.
Sgt. Eugene Jakubenas of Howard is one of the reservists already home.
“They basically drafted too many people, they jumped too early,” he said of military officials.
Jakubenas said his wife had surgery at the time he was deployed in January and when he heard about a chance for early release, he got his name on the list.
“I’m not disappointed I went, but our families suffer more than we do during something like this,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Ken Renner of Allouez supported the Division Rear Headquarters in Lukavac, Bosnia.
“My wife works long hours at a stressful job, takes two children to day care and travels to UW-Milwaukee once a week for classes,” Renner said. “She was happy to see me come home.”
Sgt. Jeff Reschke of Kimberly was angry when he heard he was returning. He said others should have returned first.
“I’m single and there are guys over there with families,” he said.
Reschke, who was critical of military oficials in Operation Joint Endeavor, said “nothing has made sense through this whole thing.”
He said there were many frustrating moments in Bosnia.
“We went to visit elderly people and where they lived the ceilings had holes in them,” Reschke said. “One lady I met said all she wanted was a blanket and I was shocked that she didn’t ask me for a new roof.”
Other local 432nd members who have returned home include Capt. Raymond Comfort of Green Bay, 1st Lt. Preston McMurry of Milwaukee (formerly of Green Bay) and Capt. Dale Nellis of Sturgeon Bay.
Green Bay Press-Gazette
April 18, 1996
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