Oklahoma City-based reservists won't leave until after Christmas

Sunday, December 19th 2004, 5:29 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Members of a U.S. Army Reserves unit based here received an early holiday present from the military Saturday when their deployment to Afghanistan was delayed for a week.

Families of 72 reservists from the 95th Division (Institutional Training) gathered at the unit's headquarters for a mobilization ceremony before they received the reprieve.

``We thought he was going to have to leave today,'' said Terri Dickinson of Tulsa, whose husband, Jason, was among the members of the 95th to be mobilized. ``But he gets to stay until the 26th.''

Instead of leaving Saturday on a deployment expected to last a year, the troops will leave Dec. 26.

``We thought they were going to move straight from here to their mobilization station to begin training,'' said Maj. Gen. James Archer, the division's commanding general. ``But then they learned they get to go home for Christmas. That made all the difference for them.''

For Capt. Jason Dickinson, the delay means one extra week at home with his wife and two children _ Hannah, 7, and Ashton, 1.

``We're just going to take the opportunity to spend a lot of good quality time with family,'' he said.

While the extra time is nice, Terri Dickinson said there is still fear.

``It's hard,'' she said, fighting back a tear as she looked at Hannah. ``It's hard, because she doesn't really understand exactly how long he'll be gone.''

The mobilization _ which includes units from a nine-state region _ marks the first time since World War II that a unit of the 95th Division has been activated, Archer said.

``This is the first time that a unit is mobilizing with the 95th Division patch,'' Archer said. ``Many of our soldiers have been mobilized and have rounded out other units that have deployed, but they have become part of those units.''

The soldiers will be embedded as trainers within the Afghan army, said 2nd Lt. Dale McCurdy. Another 15 will join them in March.