A New England military police company whose mission was extended twice will leave Iraq in August, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe said.

Families of the reservists can expect members of the 94th Military Police Company to leave on or about Aug. 6, said Snowe, R-Maine.

But it’s still unclear when they’ll be back home in New England.

“For the families of the 94th, the Defense Department has finally, in writing, provided concrete dates for the return home of their loves ones,” said Snowe. She said she hopes the soldiers will return sooner.

The unit is based in Londonderry, N.H., and has a detachment in Saco, Maine. Members also come from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

About 180 members of the unit were first deployed in December of 2002. Twice, they had been ready to leave when their stay was extended. At Easter, they were hours away from boarding their plane when they were told to wait.

Before Snowe’s announcement, the unit was scheduled to come home in October, which meant a deployment of 685 days, just short of two years.

Earlier this month, more than two dozen friends and family members wearing yellow ribbons and carrying pictures of relatives in the unit went to Washington to voice their discontent over the situation.

They met with Lt. Gen. James Helmly, who commands the Army Reserve, and other officials at the Pentagon.

In a letter to families, Helmly wrote that he now expects the 94th to begin making preparations to return home in late July and that the soldiers should leave the “theater of operations” around Aug. 6.

The unit would return to New York’s Fort Drum before being released to return to their families, Helmly wrote.

“This deployment has been long and arduous for you, your families, and the soldiers. We are all grateful for their service and are proud of their accomplishments,” he wrote.

AP-ES-06-26-04 1413EDT



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