Iraq Extension

Ohio soldiers' tour of duty extended at least three months

The news came in a recorded phone message. The 70 soldiers of the Middletown-based 324th Military Police Company won't be coming home from Iraq in May. Instead, their tour has been extended at least three months. The Ohio National Guard unit has been gone since February 2003 and has been in Kuwait and Iraq for eleven months. In an e-mail to the Cincinnati Enquirer from Kuwait, Sergeant Joe Ruchti says the situation is very frustrating and difficult for his unit. Ruchti is a Cincinnati police officer. His wife, Rachael, and other family members say they're most upset about how the military told them about the extension, and that the army hadn't informed the soldiers before their families got the news. An Ohio National Guard spokesman says the 324th is the only Ohio unit whose tour is part of the recent Pentagon extension.