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Soldier-bankers go to Iraq

http://66.225.205.104/JR20091005a.mp3

A group of North Carolina National Guard soldiers leaves for their first deployment to Iraq this week with a set of skills you don't usually associate with war. WFAE's Julie Rose has more: A military base obviously needs people to drive the trucks, patrol the region, take care of injuries and fix the meals. But the job of the 113th Finance Detachment doesn't immediately come to mind. "We're basically going to be running kind of like a bank over there," says First Lieutenant Robert Pate. "We're going to have cashiers - they're going to be cashing soldier's checks. And we're going to have a section over there to deal with military pay issues. Civilian banks back home, they have thousands and thousands of other customers to deal with. We're specialized in military pay. If they have a problem, we know how to fix it." Lieutenant Pate is the bank manager, so to speak. He commands a group of 28 North Carolina National Guard soldiers, many of whom work in banks and finance companies for a living. They will spend the next year in Iraq doing much the same thing, but not on banker's hours. Lieutenant Pate says the finance detachment typically stays open much later to accommodate the rotating shifts of soldiers on base. Nearly half of North Carolina's National Guard Soldiers are now deployed overseas.