Area families were expecting their soldiers to return home soon.

AUBURN – Roselle Henry thought she would be celebrating Saturday night. But after a phone call earlier in the day, she just feels “kind of numb.”

The Auburn woman had expected to see her husband, Staff Sgt. Christopher Henry soon. Henry was supposed to ship out of Kuwait and return home. A last-minute change of orders left him standing on the tarmac bewildered.

“I think they’re asking a lot out of reservists,” said his wife, who is waiting with her two teenage children to see what orders their father will get next.

His New Hampshire-based Army Reserve unit that spent nearly a year in Iraq will not be returning home on Easter Sunday as expected, family members were told Saturday.

After being moved from Iraq to Kuwait two weeks ago, the 94th Military Police Company has been “put on hold indefinitely” while awaiting further orders, said Jennifer Stegeman of Dayton, Maine, whose husband is also a member of the company.

One of the company’s four platoons is based in Saco, with 32 Maine soldiers.

Stegeman said she received a call earlier Saturday from her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Rick Stegeman, who outlined three possible scenarios for the unit’s 150-plus soldiers: a return to Iraq, a delayed return home or a continued stay in Kuwait.

“I think it’s a shock to a lot of people,” Henry said Saturday night from her Auburn home.

Jennifer Stegeman said uncertainty about when the soldiers will come home has left family members emotionally drained and they can only guess what will happen next.

“I’m proud of him and I support him,” she said of her husband. “I know the reason they’re where they are is that they’ve done such a fine job, and that’s being recognized. But we felt that we were finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Nancy Durst, wife of company Staff Sgt. Scott Durst from southern Maine, said it was unfair to ask more of the part-time soldiers.

“These guys are exhausted,” she said. “They shouldn’t send beaten up soldiers back into combat. I don’t know what this administration’s thinking.”

The company has been ordered into several Iraq hot spots, including Fallujah, the scene of intense fighting over the last week.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced the delay in the return of the unit, which is headquartered in Londonderry, N.H., after talking with some of the wives of its platoon based in Saco.

“It is troubling that these Maine soldiers, who are deeply missed by their loved ones, will not be coming home as expected,” Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

The 94th was deployed in December 2002 but didn’t arrive in Iraq until the following April. A combat MP unit, the company is trained to keep supply lines secure and other military units safe.

The unit was originally scheduled to come home last fall. But under a new Army policy, reservists and National Guard units can spend 12 months in the country to which they are deployed.

The company has been deployed for 2 1/2 of the past four years and spent nine months on a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia before being sent to the Middle East.

“Members of the 94th Military Police unit have done an extraordinary job in serving our nation. I am grateful for their dedicated service and for the sacrifices they have made during the past year in Iraq and before that, in Bosnia,” Collins said.

Stegeman said she could hear in her hsuband’s voice that unit members were tired and looking forward to coming home.

“But if their mission requires it, then they’re prepared to do whatever they’ve got to do,” she said.

Down the street from Roselle Henry’s home is an American Legion Post where a “welcome home” banner hangs out front. She said she didn’t have the heart to tell them their sentiment might be premature.


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