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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Not again

(John H. White/Sun-Times)
Steven Henderson, shown with his mother and
sisters, was preparing to settle into married life
when the Army called him up again.

Third time's the harm
After two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Steven Henderson says his latest callup 'not to exceed 545 days' in Iraq is asking too much.

December 28, 2006
BY DAVE NEWBART Staff Reporter
Steven Henderson served his country during two tours of duty as an Army sergeant in Afghanistan -- repeatedly coming under enemy fire and seeing fellow soldiers maimed and U.S. helicopters gunned down.

The Chicago native is back home now after being honorably discharged 20 months ago. He's married and working toward a college degree -- but the Army has called upon him again.

A letter he received two weeks before Christmas orders him to report to Fort Benning, Ga., by Jan. 14. Under the order, he is required to fight in Iraq for a period "not to exceed 545 days."

But this time, Henderson says he will not serve his country.

"It would take a miracle for me to put on a uniform again and to carry a weapon in Iraq,'' he said. "I have no intentions of going to Iraq.''

Henderson, 34, mailed off an appeal to the military Wednesday in hopes he can get out of the obligation. He already completed four years of active duty, including 17 months in operations all over Afghanistan. He received several commendations and even appears in Not a Good Day to Die, a book about Operation Anaconda, a U.S.-led assault in eastern Afghanistan in 2002. The book recounts an operation where Henderson and another soldier survived heavy enemy fire. "That was the longest 18 hours of my life,'' he recalled.


At her Olympia Fields home Wednesday, Henderson's mother, Kathleen White, teared up when thinking that her only son could end up back in harm's way.

His stepfather, Herbert White, who relies on his stepson for help around the house as he awaits a liver transplant, said he was worried about his son going abroad for potentially the third time. "How many chances does he have before something really bad happens? I'm afraid this will be the third strike.''

posted by Steve @ 10:03:00 AM

10:03:00 AM

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