LDS Mission Cut Short By Call Up to Iraq

LDS Mission Cut Short By Call Up to Iraq

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Amanda Butterfield reportingNine months into an LDS mission, an Idaho man is trading in his white shirt and tie for an Army uniform.

He was called to serve in Ohio, but now he's needed in Iraq.

"I had this feeling in the back of my mind I wouldn't finish my mission, that there was something else for me," he says.

It was just last August Garrett Hess was packing for a two year LDS mission in Columbus, Ohio.

But he won't be taking any white dress shirts and ties on this next trip he's packing for.

Only nine months into his mission, Elder Hess was called home.

Garrett Hess/ Idaho National Guardsman: "I read in this paper my unit was put on alert, then got a call a month later and said, 'Well, you're going home.'"

And will soon be enroute to Iraq.

Hess: "It's a different kind of mission, but we'll be helping the Iraqis set up their new government, and help them get along with life."

Garret is part of the 116th Cavalry out of Southeastern Idaho. After training in Fort Bliss, Texas for a few weeks, followed by Fort Polk, Louisiana, he and his fellow guardsmen are expected to be in Iraq by November.

Hess: 'When we get there we'll do a lot of patrol, guard duty, checking id's and stuff."

Garrett is one of 21 missionaries from his brigade who were called home early.

A spokesperson with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says since the war began, missionaries have been called home early from the mission field. However, none of those missionaries are from the Utah National Guard.

Lt. Col. Jeff Burton/ Utah National Guard: "The policy of Guard is not to bring home missionaries. We have been fortunate to meet our committments without doing that."

Lt. Col Burton says each Guardsman is given two years of paid leave when they sign up with the Utah guard, and they allow Church members to use that time for a mission.

Burton: "We think that's an important comittment if that soldier wants to do that."

Garrett admits he was disappionted to leave Columbus early.

"I've got a lot of friends," he says, "and met a lot of cool people over there."

But he's happy to accept this new calling.

Hess: "I served my nine months faithfully, and now I have to serve my country, so I'm proud to do it. I don't know about any other missionaries that got called home, but I'm proud to do it."

Private First Class Garrett reports to duty first thing Monday.

Garrett was given an honorable discharge from his mission. If he chooses, he can complete his mission when he returns from Iraq.

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