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Nation in brief: Mother reports to Army with kids

A North Carolina woman who was recalled to the Army four years after being honorably discharged drove nearly 400 miles and braved a Southeastern winter storm to report for duty Sunday, with her children by her side.

Lisa Pagan said she reported in Sunday night at Fort Benning after a trying drive.

“It was snowing, driving was a little uncomfortable,” she said in a telephone interview. “Got a little scary, but I had to be careful.”

Pagan is among thousands of former service members who have left active duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, only to be recalled to service. They’re not in training, they’re not getting a Defense Department salary, but as long as they have time left on their original enlistment contracts, they’re on “individual ready reserve” status – eligible to be recalled at any time.

Pagan filed several appeals, arguing that because her husband travels for business, no one else can take care of her kids. All were rejected, leaving Pagan to choose between deploying to Iraq and abandoning her family, or refusing her orders and potentially facing charges.

Pagan, whose job was truck driving during her first military stint, said it would likely be this morning before she knows what happens next.

Master Sgt. Keith O’Donnell, an Army spokesman in St. Louis, said earlier that the commander at Fort Benning will decide how to handle the situation.

Pagan said she has reserved a motel room for a week and didn’t plan to stay in the barracks.

Bastrop, Texas

Wildfire destroys homes, businesses

A wildfire fueled by grass, brush and trees has destroyed at least 25 homes and three businesses in central Texas.

Officials say two National Guard helicopters joined other aircraft Sunday in dropping water on the blaze near the towns of Bastrop and Smithville.

As of Sunday night, the wildfire had charred just over a square mile since it was started Saturday by a fallen power line.

Texas Forest Service spokesman Lewis Kearney said the fire was about 70 percent contained and that no additional structures were threatened.

From wire reports

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