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Sen. DeWine Wants Clemency for Ohio Soldiers

U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine asked the Army to grant clemency to two Ohio soldiers imprisoned for taking Army vehicles (search) abandoned in Kuwait by other units so they could carry out their own unit's mission to Iraq.

In a letter to Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, DeWine asked that the punishment for Darrell Birt (search), of Columbus, and Maj. Cathy Kaus (search) be reduced to time served.

"Adequate prison time is already being completed, and any further punishment is simply excessive," DeWine said in the letter to Metz dated Tuesday.

Birt, Kaus and four other members of the 656th Transportation Company based in Springfield, west of Columbus, said they needed the equipment to deliver fuel that was needed by U.S. forces in Iraq for everything from helicopters to tanks.

The six reservists were court-martialed and charged with theft, destruction of Army property and conspiracy to cover up their crimes. Birt said he and two others pleaded guilty and the other three were convicted. All received six-month sentences.

DeWine requested that Kaus be released early from prison. Currently Kaus can be released on Dec. 25. Birt, a former chief warrant officer, has completed his prison sentence.

Clemency could restore their military benefits and change their dishonorable discharges.

DeWine's request came a week after U.S. soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in Kuwait that they have to scrounge in landfills for scrap metal and discarded bullet-resistant glass to provide armor for their vehicles.

A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with U.S. Army Public Affairs.