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ABOARD THE USS BATAAN — A trip south through the Suez Canal is money in the bank for sailors and Marines.

Once they exit the canal and enter the Gulf of Suez, they are entitled to combat pay. Plus, they are in a tax-free zone, a benefit in which servicemembers do not have to pay taxes for time served in the region. Mail also is free.

Sailors and Marines have to spend only one day in the zone to receive tax-free status for the entire month.

The extra cash is another reason why sailors and Marines are smiling as they leave “the Ditch.”

How much more servicemembers get in the paycheck depends on their pay rate and their job.

For example, Petty Officer 3rd Class Sharla Ruff, who works in the USS Bataan’s disbursing department, estimates she will receive $405 more a month for entering the region. She won’t have to pay about $180 in taxes. In addition, she gets $225 in danger pay.

If she worked on the flight deck, she would receive another $100 a month. If she were married and had children, she would receive an additional $250 for being gone a minimum of 30 days.

Ruff said she’d gladly take any extra cash.

“Money is money,” she said. “It’s all spendable.”

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