Soldier Fields Many Questions About Iraq Experience

Some members of the 890th are home from Iraq right now on leave, and one of them was an honored guest at the Biloxi Edgewater Rotary Club meeting. Twenty-one-year old C.J. Patterson is part of the 890th Engineering Battalion, Headquarters Company.

In the week since he came home on leave, Patterson has spent a lot of time talking about the place he left behind. There are questions about Hussein, the violence and the Iraqis. But mainly, Patterson says, people want to know what its like to be an American soldier in Iraq. He doesn't mind telling them.

"The more they know, the more they understand what we go through over there. Because just watching the news just really doesn't give a full perspective of what's going on," he said.

At the Biloxi Edgewater Rotary luncheon, Senator Trent Lott addressed a question that's on the minds of many national guardsman and reservists. Why are they being asked to serve longer tours of duty?

"I have resisted this but I've come to the conclusion that we don't have adequate numbers in our regular Army," said Lott. "The Pentagon will not admit that."

Lott says the regular Army needs to be expanded. Patterson says the senator is right on target.

"It's always good to have someone on your side who's working for you, trying to help us out. We're stuck over there away from our families and jobs. Well, we know we've got jobs guaranteed, but just hope we go back into them the same way we've left them."