Other reservists are getting ready to head overseas.

BATH (AP) – Jim Heard wasn’t home for his 44th birthday or 20th wedding anniversary, but he expects to have plenty to celebrate at home this weekend.

Heard is scheduled to return to his wife and civilian job at Bath Iron Works after two months overseas with a U.S. Naval Reserve supply unit. Heard’s wife, Janet Heard, said her husband told her Friday by phone that he would be home Sunday.

“I said, ‘Are you sure?’ Because they’d told us six months to a year,” she said. “I’ve tried to not to get my hopes up, but it’s true.”

With the war in Iraq winding down, thousands of National Guard and Reserve forces who left civilian lives for the war will be heading home soon, the Pentagon has announced. But even as they leave, other citizen soldiers with skills needed for Iraq’s reconstruction will be called up.

A total of 846 reservists from Maine were mobilized for the war in Iraq, including 264 members of the Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling wing and 174 members of the Army National Guard’s 1136th Transportation Co.

It is not known how long it will be before they come home. Officials for the Army and Air National Guards, and Army Reserves, who make up the bulk of the reserve units from Maine, said they have not received word that can be passed on to the soldiers’ families.

“We do not have any information on our folks right now,” said Maj. Peter Rogers, spokesman for the Maine Army and Air National Guard. “We have not been given anything about our units that have been deployed or on the ones on alert, as far as going in for cleanup.”

Military officials have not said how many of the 223,000 backup troops on active duty were mobilized specifically for the Iraq war and how many for the global war on terror. It is estimated that roughly 100,000 Guard and Reserve forces are among the more than 250,000 Americans on duty in the Persian Gulf region.

AP-ES-04-26-03 1215EDT


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