Mandel headed back to Iraq
Posted by Aaron Marshall July 19, 2007 11:35AM

State Rep. Josh Mandel is headed to Iraq -- again.

The freshman state lawmaker, considered a rising star in Ohio Republican circles, has volunteered for a second tour of duty in Iraq as an intelligence specialist in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"I didn't join the Marine Corps to say no when the Marine Corps needed Marines in my field," said Mandel.

Mandel, who was elected to his first term as state representative in 2006 after serving on the Lyndhurst City Council, previously served a tour in Iraq in 2004 as an intelligence officer attached to a combat battalion in the Al Anbar region, which runs along the Syrian border.

The Marine reservist will undergo about six weeks of training in the United States before heading back to Iraq sometime this fall for an approximate eight month tour. He said he isn't sure yet exactly what unit he will be stationed with in Iraq.

Mandel said he has already pulled petitions for reelection in 2008 and will keep his seat in the legislature while he serves in Iraq.

"Everyone I talked to in my district understands that my duty to our country comes first," said Mandel.

He declined to comment directly on the current debate over the war in Iraq, but said he was returning in part because of a sense of allegiance to his fellow Marines.

"One thing I will say is that regardless of how people feel about the war in Iraq people here support the troops," he said. "We as Marines understand and appreciate that."