Local soldiers thrilled by capture, hope it brings other troops home sooner

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 17, 2003


That was Robert Bailey Jr.’s initial reaction to news that Saddam Hussein had been captured in Iraq. Bailey, a Ferriday, La., resident, knows all too well how important it is to have the former Iraqi dictator in U.S. custody. A member of the 1086th Transportation Company of the Louisiana Army National Guard, he returned from service in Iraq late last month.

&uot;I’m very relieved,&uot; said Bailey, who added he was with his brother Matthew, a fellow Guard member, when they got the news. &uot;That puts a big closure on what we did over there.&uot;

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Bailey hopes this news means other troops serving in Iraq &045; including the 1087th Transportation Company, which has members from Catahoula Parish &045; will soon have a homecoming, too. For now, he said, plans call for troop rotations in Iraq through 2007.

&uot;I’m hoping this allows the troops to come home sooner,&uot; Bailey said. &uot;It’s a horrible place over there.&uot;

Kathy Bean’s husband Scott, a Jonesville resident, is a member of the 1087th. On Sunday afternoon she wasn’t sure if he had heard the news yet, but she was pleased to hear of the capture.

&uot;I think it’s wonderful,&uot; she said. &uot;I don’t know if it will bring him home sooner.&uot;

Bean hopes, though, that the capture will at least ease the violent attacks that continue to injure or kill American soldiers almost daily.

Sgt. Kathryn Brooks of Natchez, also member of the 1086th, was at first doubtful when her sister called from Atlanta to urge her to turn on CNN.

&uot;I’m still a little skeptical; I want to see the results of the DNA test,&uot; she said. &uot;When I saw him with the beard I was skeptical … I know he has a lot of doubles.&uot;

And Brooks worries whether the capture will curb guerrilla or spur Saddam’s supporters to more violence.

&uot;He still has his loyalists out there, and they have a mind of their own. … We need to beef up security and be mindful of what’s happening around us. We just don’t need to let our guard down.&uot;

Still, Brooks said she is amazed at the news &045; and happy about what it will mean for her fellow soldiers still in Iraq.

&uot;I’m sure it will boost the morale of the troops over there,&uot; she said. &uot;This is a good Christmas present for everyone.&uot;