By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A Havre woman left for Iraq Thursday to finish her tour with the Monana Army National Guard.
"I'm ready to go and get it done and get home," Sgt. Kathy Lynch said Wednesday.
Lynch, 47, is stationed in Iraq with the 639th Quartermaster Supply Company out of Kalispell. She left Iraq on leave on Oct. 30 and arrived in Havre on Nov. 2.
She said much of her work in the coming months will be preparing the company to return to the United States. It's scheduled to come home within six months.
"We're kind of on the downhill slide," she said.
Lynch spent most of the last two weeks visiting her daughter, Kelly Lynch, at Montana State University-Bozeman and her father and stepmother, Earl and Linda Duncan, in Conrad. She also visited co-workers and students at Rocky Boy Public Schools, where she is an elementary school counselor.
"It's really relaxing. It was just good to see everybody," she said.
Lynch has been in Iraq about four months, compared with eight months for most of the people serving with the 639th. She had knee surgery and her departure was delayed.
Lynch was one of many National Guard soldiers from around the state who were activated to serve with the 639th, including several Guardsmen from the Havre and Chinook detachments of the 443rd Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants Supply Company. She serves with the Chinook detachment.
Frank English, whose mother works for the Havre Daily News, is stationed with Lynch and gets the paper, Lynch said. The Hi-Line Guardsmen read it to keep up on local events.
Lynch's main duties are ordering parts and keeping track of the maintenance schedules for the company's equipment.
She has seen no combat. But she has been on a couple of convoys that started on her base in the southern part of Iraq.
"It's very eye-opening," Lynch said. "It's very poor there and it's really dry." As she traveled farther north on the convoys, she saw more irrigation and better housing.
She said the soldiers were surprised when a 21-year-old Iraqi told them he was making $3 a day doing construction on the base and thought it was good money.
"That helped put some things in perspective for some folks who hadn't seen that kind of poverty," she said.
Some members of the military think the military action in Iraq was a bad idea, she said, while others - particularly those who have been there the longest - think it was necessary.
As they see and hear more about atrocities in the country, like discoveries of mutilated bodies and places where hostages were killed, the action is becoming more justifiable in some soldiers' eyes, Lynch added.
Most soldiers aren't commenting either way, she said.
"I think most would say, 'We're here, we're going to do a job, get it done and go home,'" she said.
Her company has received tremendous support from home.
"People from all over the state are sending things," she said.
She is confident the troop rotations will continue on a regular basis, and not be extended as they were in the first year of the war.
Long tours were one of the soldiers' biggest complaints, and she thinks the military wants to make sure that doesn't happen again.
The only thing that could throw off the rotation is unrest in Iraq after the elections in January, she added. She is confident that she will be able to come home again soon.
"We should be packing up and hopefully be out by the middle of March. That's our hope, anyway," she said.