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About 18,000 sailors who were in the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the early days of the attack on Iraq are eligible to receive special pay for their service, Navy officials said.

For the first 24-day period of the war in Iraq — from March 19 to April 11, 2003, sailors with the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike groups, and the units part of Task Force 61 under the Sixth Fleet, did not receive either Imminent Danger Pay or Combat Zone Tax Relief benefit.

On April 11, 2003, the Navy designated the eastern Mediterranean Sea, east of 30 degrees east longitude, as a zone in which sailors would be eligible to collect the special IDP and tax exclusion benefit. On Feb. 4 this year, officials made those benefits retroactive to March 19, 2003, when the war in Iraq started.

“We are absolutely delighted to be able to get this pay into the hands of all those hard-working sailors who were there during the opening phase of the war,” Vice Adm. Gerry Hoewing, chief of Naval Personnel, said in a statement. “They were among the first to sail in harm’s way, and they certainly deserve this.”

Imminent Danger Pay, also known as Hostile Fire Pay, was bumped from $150 a month to $225 a month beginning Oct. 1, 2002. The $75 increase will be paid through Dec. 31, 2004.

Troops in designated combat zones are excluded from having to pay federal income tax on their earnings. State tax exclusions are up to individual states.

The total time period for the IDP and tax exclusion pay for those sailors is March 19 through Aug. 1, 2003, when those ships left that designated area, according officials and the Naval Administration Message, or NAVADMIN, 036/04.

Sailors should contact their local disbursing office for more information.


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