Local Military Families Talk About Possible Longer Tours

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Knoxville (WVLT) - The government announced Wednesday that tours of duty in Iraq could be extended by three months.

Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel takes a look at what local military men have to say about the announcement.

Marine Sgt. Patrick Northern spent seven months in Iraq and says he's proud to be part of the effort as America helps the Iraqis. Northern says if the government is choosing to extend deployments, they must have good reason.

"It's always good to come home to your hometown," Northern said.

Sgt. Patrick Northern is due for some R&R and what better place than home sweet home.

"Family comes first. This is why we join the military," Northern said.

But now the war in Iraq is taking another turn as the Pentagon announces longer deployments: 15 months for active duty troops.
Sgt. Northern's mother says even a short time with her son in harm's way is enough.

"The not knowing, watching the news, you'll hear seven Marines were killed and you go, "Oh, my God," Tamara Northern said.

"It's not easy being away from home, but joining the Marine Corps or Army or whatever unit you're in, you know you have an obligation and the longer you're over there, the more work you get done," Sgt. Northern said.

And there's an added benefit.

"If you do more time over there, you should always have more time to relax," Sgt. Northern said.

The Pentagon agrees saying those who deploy for the extended time will have at least a year before being called back.

"I've listened to him tell me a few things about those people over there really need help, and that makes you look at it kind of different, but you still don't want your child to go back," Tamara Northern said.

Sgt. Northern is based in Okanawa, Japan, but he's home for a quick visit. He says his Japan-based unit will re-deploy to Iraq after a 10-to-11 month break.

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