Video: Sisters to stay home

updated 4/28/2004 9:20:35 AM ET 2004-04-28T13:20:35

Two soldiers who were given the choice of returning to combat in Iraq after their sister was killed in a Baghdad ambush have decided not to go back, a National Guard spokesman said Tuesday.

Rachel and Charity Witmer decided instead to ask for noncombat jobs, said Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Tim Donovan.

The two arrived home April 12 to attend the funeral of Michelle, their 20-year-old sister and Charity’s twin, who was killed April 9 in an attack.

Under Pentagon policy, when a soldier is killed while serving in a hostile area, other family members in the military may request a non-combat assignment.

Rachel Witmer, 24, serves with the 32nd Military Police Company, as did Michelle. The Wisconsin Army National Guard unit already has served a year in the Middle East and recently had its service extended four months.

Charity Witmer is a sergeant and medic with the 118th Medical Battalion, which arrived in Baghdad in February.

The sisters’ unit commanders in Iraq had recommended that the two be given non-combat assignments.

“Both commanders asked Rachel and Charity not to return, not because these soldiers are not valid members of their units, but because they are,” Maj. Gen. Al Wilkening said in a statement.

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