May 30, 2003 / 8:00 PM ET
My water broke at 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21. The reality that Noel would not be here for the birth of our baby came to fruition. I sent him an urgent e-mail and, with the grace of God, he received it. He was able to call me at the hospital throughout the day - which was a true blessing.
Robert “Joseph” III was born at 2:55 p.m., weighing 6 pounds, 8 ounces. He was 19 inches long at birth. I send Noel pictures of him every day. Joseph changes daily. He is the most precious thing I have ever seen; watching him sleep brings tears to my eyes. I thank God for this gift.
The latest word is that my husband will be home in August, when Joseph will be 3 months old. It is heartbreaking to think Noel will miss so much, but his safe return remains the most important thing.
As the Army Family Journal comes to an end, I want to thank its followers for reading my words — the story that is one of many, the story of the military wife.
For all of my family, friends and journal followers who have prayed for us, I am ever grateful. You have provided strength, courage and love in a very frightening time in my life. I thank you for your unconditional support and kindness.
May angels continue to keep our soldiers from harm’s way and guide them to the safety of their families.
May God bless America!
May 26, 2003 / 5:13 PM ET
The longer U.S. troops are deployed abroad, the more the patience of those waiting at home becomes strained. The theme that comes up repeatedly in this week’s Army Family Letters is frustration. Whether directed at the media, the military, or President Bush, some family members on the home front can’t help but lash out at not being able to stay in closer touch with their loved ones abroad.
Name: Herbert Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan
I have a twenty year old son serving in the 3rd ACR. He was deployed during the first week of April and thus far, I have received one letter. This morning Fox News reported that 3rd ACR had experienced one fatality and one injury in an attack on a convoy 140 miles northwest of Baghdad. The reported stated, “Names are being withheld, pending notification of next of kin.”
For every single family that has a son or daughter in Iraq, this type of reporting puts them on pins and needles. The only comfort we get is that eventually, hours will pass, no knock on the door will occur and we will have made another day. I am a man of faith and know that God loves all His children, but this type of reporting is difficult for so many.
Name: Nichole Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
My husband is with the 101st (Air Assault) AVN Reg. out of Ft. Campbell Kentucky. We have a seven month old son. Garret was almost four months when Daddy left.
We hadn’t been married a year when we found out that we were expecting our son. I was scared to death, but my husband was thrilled. All he ever wanted to do in life was get married and have a family. I’ll never forget the joy in his voice while he was calling all his family and friends and telling them the news.
He was there for me during my entire pregnancy. He made sure that I got anything and everything that I needed and wanted. When Garret was born, I’ve never seen anyone so excited, and so scared at the same time. At that moment, I was happier and more excited for my husband than anything else. His dream in life had been accomplished.
We knew that they were going to have to leave. We always said that it would be right after I got pregnant or right after we had a baby. Three months later, orders came down for the entire division. Three days later, his orders for his battalion were passed out. He had two weeks. On the day he left, he didn’t want to put our son down. When he had to walk away from us, all I could see was the pain in his eyes as he looked at his little boy for the last time.
The hardest thing about this deployment is not our separation. We can handle that. The hardest thing is looking at my son, seeing my husband in everything that my baby does, and knowing that my husband waited his whole life for this special time. He’s missing it.
I talk to my husband once a week. I can not tell him what Garret is doing, or how big he has gotten. I break down every time I try. I let the pictures I take tell the story.
If you don’t support the war, fine. Support the troops. They make the greatest sacrifice to simply do their jobs.
Name: Margaret Hometown: Ft. Lewis, WA
I finally heard from my husband yesterday! I have had one other phone call from him since he left for Iraq over seven weeks ago. The line was very bad, but I was just so glad to hear from him. When he told me he has been put in for the Bronze Star, I almost came unglued. I do not want to know what he did that was so brave to merit this award, I don’t want him to do it again, I want him to come home in one piece. Maybe I am sounding selfish, but I sit here, and I desperately miss my husband. He is the light behind my eyes, and I am terrified of losing him.
I am very proud of him for doing what he does, and it is a comfort knowing that he will take care of other soldiers, but I also want him to take care of himself in all this mess. It is very hard not knowing what is going on over there these days. CNN, MSNBC, and other news shows seem to have forgotten that while the “war” may be officially over, we still have loved ones in harms way, and we are desperate for any type of news about them. We need to know that they are OK, that they are not in need of anything we can take care of for them, and we pray for that long shot of a camera shot of them.
I love you Will, please come home to me soon!
Read some of the letters to Army Family Journal here.
May 19, 2003 / 3:06 PM ET
DOWN TO THE WIRE
It is now only two weeks away from my due date. I continue to work full-time, flexing some hours from home. I am amazed at how much my energy level has dropped and my feet and ankles continue to swell.
I am both excited and apprehensive about the birth of our child; I have a very low tolerance for pain. The nursery is almost complete. I have been anxiously awaiting the delivery of the crib. It should arrive this week.
There were rumors that our units would be home by the first of June. But when I attended a Family Readiness Group meeting last week, we were told that all redeployments have been frozen until further notice. My heart fell to my stomach.
Although I’ve been prepared since he left that I may not have him present for the birth, reality is setting in. I continue to pray that it will work itself out in the upcoming days.
As I prepare my list for the hospital bag, a new item is added. A camcorder!
May 13, 2003 / 12:01 PM ET
While many families are enjoying the return of their loved ones from the the war in Iraq, others are still waiting by the phone and fearing for their family abroad. Still others are just beginning the process of deployment and the pain of separation.
Name: Kimmy Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
My fiancé is with the 1/3 ACR at Fort Carson. He was deployed about a month ago -the hardest month of my life.
I just received my third letter Saturday from him. I broke down. It was post dated April 17. In it he said he was in a hospital. There was an incident where a grenade was thrown at a humvee. Well, he was close to the explosion and it knocked him out. It gave him a concussion and his arms and legs were cut up from the flying shrapnel. If it wasn’t for his flak vest he would have died.
It took two weeks to finally hear this in a letter. His wounds aren’t severe enough to send him home. I’m scared to death though. If he was there less than a month and has already been injured, the next however many months are going to be hell. I never know how he’s doing.
Night after night I cry myself to sleep. Then pass out from the exhaustion of crying so much, but can never make it through the night. I usually get about 3 hours of rest through the night, if that. It’s hard to go out anywhere because everything reminds me of him and I’ll break down. He is my whole world, and this whole deployment is just tearing my heart apart.
I may be selfish, but he’s already been hurt. They just need to send him home. They just need to send all our troops home, and let Iraq build their own country.
It’s their country, let them do what they want with it.
I support all the troops and I feel for anyone who has lost one or if they have been severely injured. The thoughts are killer, and I wish them all the best. I hope they all come home safe and unharmed. Lord knows mine wasn’t completely fortunate, but I believe he will come home to me. Then we can finally spend eternity together.
I love my Josh. God bless our troops!
Read some of the letters to Army Family Journal here.
May 1, 2003 / 6:48 PM ET
BRING THEM HOME
Time seems to escape me as I focus on all the necessary things that need to be done for the upcoming birth. I have been experiencing a great deal of false labor and swelling as my body prepares for this miraculous event. It is truly all-consuming.
I spoke with Noel briefly again by phone, and I am pleased that he is doing well. We are both anxious to know if he will make it home in time; plans change daily, and there are no guarantees.
Potential return dates float among the wives’ chains. Even though no one knows for sure, there is one consensus: Bring our boys home!
Read some of the letters to Army Family Journal here.
April 18, 2003 / 11:20 AM ET
I have been blessed with another phone call and limited e-mail contact with Noel. He seems so much closer with this gift of technology. I sent him a profile picture of me at my baby shower so he can see my expanding body.
I wish that I could witness the look on his face when he opens the file and sees how very large I have become since his departure.
As the mission of our troops transforms to peacekeeping, I do not feel compelled to constantly monitor the news. I am more hopeful now that Noel will be able to come home for the birth of our baby. It is so hard to believe that my due date is only seven weeks away.
Earlier this week, I attended a memorial service for one of our soldiers lost in combat. It is difficult to describe how I felt during this ceremony; it disturbed my soul. I felt so much empathy and pain for his wife. I was completely astounded by her strength; she too, is a hero. May God bless her and guide her during this horrendous time.
As I reflected on my thoughts that day I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt guilty. I was thankful I was not in her shoes. As much as I desire my husband home for the birth of our first child, most importantly, I want him to return unharmed.
April 11, 2003 / 4:00 PM ET
HEARTBREAK AND HOPE
Your letters: How painful is it to watch and wait for your husband, your dad, your brother, your child, knowing they are in harm’s way, fighting a faraway war? The e-mail sent to Army Family Journal by families keeping vigil with their loved ones in battle are full of heartbreak, tempered by prayer and leavened with a large measure of hope. It is difficult to read today’s letters without weeping.
Name: Rebekah Hometown: Hoover, Alabama
Our son, Levi, is with the Third Infantry. We haven’t received a letter yet this week. It is difficult to watch the news reports as we find ourselves frantically trying to catch a glimpse of him. His youngest brother does not understand war, and some of his misconceptions are hard to explain. Yesterday, he heard “the war is over” on the news and now believes that his Bubby will be home today or at least by this weekend. He jumps around so happily and will not listen when we tell him that Levi will be away for a long time. He loves his big brother so much and really misses him a lot, as do the rest of the family. We continue to pray for our service men and women and offer our undying support.
Name: Gail Hometown: Great Falls, MT
Our Lance is a wonderful 20-year-old sailor serving aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, and is missed every minute of every day by his very large family. But he has two very special little boys who wait in a different world than we do. They are Robbie, age 6, and Joey, age 5. Both are special needs children we adopted as infants. And their world revolves around family.
Lance has always worked very well with special needs children in the community. But Robbie, who has autism, misses Lance so much. When the war started we hung our flags and he wanted to hang yellow ribbons so we made big ribbons and hung them. Friends and neighbors did also.
But as the night got late, no one could get Robbie in off the porch. I went out to sit with him and ask why he didn’t want to come in. He told me that he was waiting for Lance. I explained it would be a long wait. He told me that it wasn’t true. He had hung his ribbons like people said, now Lance would come and he would wait.
After lots of tears we got him in and now he checks the porch every morning to see if Lance is there.
Joey tells me he plays with Lance every night when he goes to bed. Joey was born with brain damage and lives in a different world most times. But I think that world would be fun for me, too, if I could play and talk to Lance everyday.
I guess what I’m saying is that even the smallest of creatures are effected by what we do and most of all what we say.
I pray many times a day for the safe return and quick end to this war. But most of all I’m filled with pride and love for all our troops.
Name: Jacob, age 6 and Noah, age 5 Hometown: Fort Campbell
Hi Daddy. It’s me, Jacob. Mommy told me to tell you what I want to. I want to say that I miss you and could you come home for my birthday? I know your job is very important and I am proud of you. I wear my flag everyday so people will know I am so proud of you. I don’t have bad dreams now because I know you are getting the bad guys. Please stay safe over there because we need you to come home so Mommy won’t be sad and cry at night. She talks about you all the time to all her friends and she smiles so much when we get letters from you. Hope you and your friends are together. I love you Daddy and I miss your voice at bedtime. I miss you hugging us when we get booboos and mostly I miss the way you throw me and Noah in the air. Come home safely Daddy.
It’s me, Noah. Mommy wants me to tell you about school. I am doing good, but I cry sometimes when my friends’ Daddies pick them up from school. I know you are coming home because you are the strongest daddy over there. I still have some bad dreams but Mommy makes them better when she tells me about how you got all them bad guys. You are protecting us and making us safe, Mommy said.
She misses you almost as much as me and Jake do. She wears a pin that says “Chris” on it all the time. She even wears your tag things...they are ugly. If you are coming home for Jake’s birthday, will you bring me a glow stick for my birthday? I miss you, Daddy, and I want you to come home because Mommy isn’t strong enough to throw me in the air. And she doesn’t tell the stories right at bedtime. She is a good mommy but you need to teach her how to do the monster sounds. Well, Miss Irene wants to send this so you can read it. Don’t tell Mommy that she can’t read, you will hurt her feelings. I love you Daddy and I can’t wait to see you again. Love, Noah.
Name: Kim Hoskins Hometown: Clarksville, Tennessee
I’m from Clarksville, Tennessee. My husband is stationed with the 101st Airborne. He deployed for Kuwait on February 28th. I knew he would be leaving soon I just didn’t know when. The day before he came in the house and said, “Guess what? I got promoted.” He’s not even been in a year. I was like, “That’s great!” And then he said, “I’m leaving tomorrow of Iraq.” It didn’t seem so great anymore. But I had to put on a face and be happy for him because I could tell he was so ecstatic.
The sad part is with being promoted the day before you leave is that you have to find someone to sew on your new rank on short notice when you’re in a small town of 20,000 troops that are being deployed. That’s kind of hard, but he went to the sew shop that he normally goes to and they took care of him as soon as they could.
Then there were several things that he didn’t have yet that he needed so we went to Wal-Mart. Let me just say it was busy. Everyone waiting until the last minute.
So when we finally got back tot he house he had to pack all of his stuff. I just watched. He said he needed to do it so he would know where everything was. I just watched and tried not to cry. We were up until three a.m. packing his stuff. He had to be at formation at 8:30, but we didn’t know when he plane would actually leave. He came back home at 11 and I had to have him back over there at 2:00 to draw his weapon. He just kept saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll be all right. Just don’t worry.” All I could say is that I couldn’t help but worry. We were some of the lucky ones. We go to go to the hangar to see them off.
As soon as we walked inside a sergeant said all family members must leave. I didn’t want it to be a long, drawn-out goodbye and tried not to cry. But he kept grabbing my arm and didn’t want to let me go. As I turned around there were tears streaming down his cheek. He said, “Just remember I love you and I’ll be back home once my mission is done.” My husband’s not the type to cry. I’ve only seen him cry once in the seven years we have been together. Yes, we’re just 23 but we were high school sweethearts. I’ve known no one like I know him.
After about three weeks of not hearing anything except they’ve made it there all safe, etc. etc., I get a call from him three days before he was to move forward to Iraq. I answered the phone in a sickly voice (I had had the flu for a week) to hear:
“Hello? Can you hear me?”
I could feel my face light up. “Yes, are you OK?”
He answered, “Yes, just need to shower.”
I laughed. He always knows how to make me laugh. Then he asked, “Are you OK? You sound sick.” I was like, “Year, but I’m better.”
Then I could hear his voice crackle, “There’s no one there to take care of you.” I just insisted that I was fine. My family is only four hours away. I decided to stay behind on my own. I believe that I’m strong enough to do it. Then I reassured him that my friends had brought me medicine and check in on me from time to time.
That phone call was the only time I’ve heard his voice since he’s been gone. I’ve received several letters. The last one two days ago with his signature and below it read “Iraq.”
He said he’s doing OK. Ready to come home and reassured me of how much he loves me and how he wants to start a family when he returns. Now I just watch the news and pray. That’s all there is to do really. It’s hard but I know I’m not the only one going through this — definitely not the only one.
That’s the one thing about being a military wife, you can’t feel sorry for yourself because the person down the block, across the hall, or down the street is going through the same thing and might even have it worse. God bless our soldiers and may they all return home safely.
Name: Lisa Hometown: Ronan, MT
I have family and friends fighting for this cause and have struggled from its inception as to whether or not this fight is right. Whether we should be over there imposing our government’s opinion on these people has always been a question for me and countless others. For the first time since they left, I feel like everything is going to be okay. The people of Iraq began to get rid of the statues and are starting to celebrate in their newly gained freedom. This is the beginning of a new life for them. I know our warriors will continue the fight, and I am more secure in the thought that we are doing the right thing.
Read more letters to Army Family Journal here.
April 10, 2003 / 1:45 PM ET
A TIME TO DANCE, A TIME TO MOURN
Journal entry from Tamara:
I had the pleasure of family and friends visiting from out of town over the last week. As I focused on entertaining and a very busy work schedule, time seemed to pass a little faster.
Nevertheless, I can never completely escape the war. I am informed of the casualty reports daily. My thoughts are not present, but drifting to the safety and whereabouts of my husband.
I was beginning to wonder how much more I can take. Then, I received a very special gift. An acquaintance of my sister-in-law sent me a small package. It held a beautiful rosary and a heart-warming note. A stranger had given her this rosary during Desert Storm to bring her husband home safely…she was passing it on to me.
I wept as I read her story and felt the generosity and hope that had been given to me. A true-life example of “pay it forward.”
Some bad news: I suffered a death in my family. More sorrow overcame me since I could neither share this with my husband nor travel home to grieve with my family. Now, more than ever, I long to hear his voice. I miss his first phone call since before the war started. Tears fell as I listened to his message; he has never sounded so totally exhausted. I am heartbroken that I wasn’t home.
At 3 a.m. yesterday, Noel called again. He was rested and eager to hear about the progress of my pregnancy. My spirit is once again replenished.
The last 24 hours have carried a twist of events. I share the elation of the Iraqi people dancing in the streets in celebration the freedom that has been given to them. Even though I know this is not over, it seems the sun is shining a little brighter over Baghdad.
I would like to dedicate this journal entry to my dearest Chuck and the woman who passed along such a precious gift. You have touched my life more than you know. I am grateful for such special angels.
WATCHING AND WAITING
Your letters: American-led forces have entered Baghdad, and despite the rejoicing, there is a sense that dangers and challenges lie ahead for military personnel deployed to the Middle East. Today’s letters to Army Family Journal reflect the anxieties of those who wait for news of their loved ones. In today’s sampling of e-mail, there are comments from daughters and mothers, spouses and siblings of those away at war — and one special letter a young soldier sent to his father.
My Dad is deployed in the Army. He is with the 656 Trans Company. But they are with the 4th ID. He is in Kuwait, but they are on their way to Iraq. It is really scary knowing that my normal everyday Dad is now in a war fighting for our country. It is also an awesome thing to know that my dad is fighting for our country and helping others.
It is scary without him. My Dad means the world to me and I hope nothing happens to him, and I can’t wait until he comes home because he is coming home! I want to thank the others for fighting for the country and we all have you in our prayers. I love you Dad. You and Girdy be careful and I will see you when you guys get home.
Name: Rebekah Hometown: Seattle, Washington
My family is coping fine with the war. As fine as we can. We think about our 19- year-old, red-haired, beautiful brother constantly, wondering what he is seeing, if he will be alive to get the care package we send him, if he is scared.
We cry for him, for the brutality he must be seeing and inflicting on others, even though he is a gentle, affectionate, exceptionally loving man. We know he is strong, mentally and physically, and well-trained, and has as good a chance as any other Marine to come home alive. Before he left, I used to imagine how horrible it would be if he were injured or lost a limb — now I just want him to come home alive.
I can understand better that even if he came home with an injury, we can just be thankful that he is alive and we can spend the rest of our lives with him. My mother is glued to the TV, she can’t stop watching, hoping she will catch a glimpse of her precious boy. We are so proud of him, though, and if this doesn’t kill him, it will give him a depth of understanding and maturity that few men his age will have.
I also believe that President Bush does care about our troops, very much, and does feel very responsible regarding their well-being. We don’t need to send his daughters to war with a gun in their hands to teach him a lesson, as many have suggested.
Name: A. Hometown: Laredo, Texas
My husband is a PFC in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was deployed February 14. We got married in December and I’m 3 1/2 months pregnant. Last weekend was the first time I went out of town for two days and while on my trip I got news from my husband — news you don’t want to hear.
I contacted one of the sergeants at Fort Bragg and he told me that my husband had been shot in the thigh. He right away told me it wasn’t too serious for me not to worry. How can I not worry? Right know I’m just waiting for more news but I’m glad that he’s okay. I’m just waiting for him to come home.
Name: Brenda Hometown: Bamberg, Germany
When you think of families coping with war, you probably think of the ones in the United States. Those of us who are stationed overseas cope differently. I am the spouse of a U.S. Army sergeant and we are stationed in Germany.
I said good bye to my husband and that’s all I can say. The only thing we know over here is that our battalion of engineers is attatched to the 3rd Infantry. So, we listen to what ever news AFN network sends our way.
All that is left on our base are spouses and children and a few rear detatchments. Ironically, we have the German military guarding our gates and post. We can’t run “home” to family when we are down. Is it hard? Yes, but it is the life we signed up for, the one that keeps our freedom alive.
I write my husband once a week, just to let him know what is going on. I haven’t heard from him but once in a letter that was two weeks old and I recieved before the war started. We (our three sons and I ) take it one day at a time. We keep our soldiers in prayer.
Our youngest son, age 7, has started asking when is Dad coming home? I don’t have an answer yet, so we plan for a year. I never thought I could miss someone as much as I miss him. I have felt so many different emotions, from anger at protestors and celebrities to loneliness, frustration, anxiety, sorrow, pride for our military and our country (try defending our country to German ladies), to a deeper love for my husband.
I thank God for many things, He has surely blessed my family, and I know that without Him, I as a military wife, I could not get through all of this. Remember, there are many military families overseas, keep our soldiers and us in your prayers.
Name: Alan Hometown: Key West, Florida
My only son is a staff sergeant, an elite Army Ranger in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which recently jumped into northern Iraq. He is a fine man, the kindest and most honest man I know. He is my hero. Just before he left he sent me the following letter. I share this most personal of gifts with you, with difficulty, in the hope of greater understanding for all of us.
By the time you receive this letter, I may very well be in harm’s way. I don’t know where I will be and it is kind of exciting, but also somewhat unsettling at times. This is all part of my duty and I accept that. My first concern is for my wife, and that I don’t cause her hardship or grief. Besides that, I would hope that this mission helps America, my home, and my loved-ones. I hope they are safer for our sacrifices. It would be nice if they were appreciative. However, I know that if people do not sacrifice personally, they will probably not appreciate what they have gained. In any case, this is the path I have chosen, and I am happy with my choice.
I think that the greatest gift you have given me is to have always supported me. I never had to worry about if you were behind me; you always have been, always. I will never forget all of the things we’ve done together. Well, now that I have stated what I felt you must know, let’s not get sappy, or sad. I will see you when the job is done.
I forward this letter to you in the hope that it may help others to better understand, even if not agreeing with our government’s policies, it is critical to support and hold in high regard the men and women of our armed forces.
Thank you for letting me share with you.
April 2, 2003 / 11:02 AM ET
WOMEN IN COMBAT
Your letters: Spurred by every update in Tamara’s personal journal, and every development in the ongoing war, reader mail to Army Family Journal remains steady, at a rate of about 3,000 messages per week. Today’s mail begins with a letter from a young sargeant about to deploy to the desert, who has things to say to her mother about what it means to be a woman at war.
Other messages come from a recruiter, who asks how America will welcome veterans of this war back home and a Native American grandmother who has mixed feelings about combat. Several military wives weigh in about loneliness and the difficulty of life without their spouses — including a one-time marine, now married to the Army, who is maintaining a Website for the families in her husband’s company:
Name: SGT M.L. Hometown: Alpine, OR
As a soldier about to deploy, I find that the hardest moments are talking to my Mom, trying to be positive but trying to not lead her on about the possible situations I might face.
As a woman, I’ll supposedly not be in any direct combat, but as we’ve all already seen, women are no more exempt from capture than any other critter out there. We’re soldiers too, despite what some people, male and female, seem to think.
It’s hard to maintain cheerfulness when friends talk about the fact that it was a maintenance section, much like the one I belong to as a mechanic, that was captured. I go back and forth between being skeptical myself, and staying up all night thinking of what-ifs and what-might-bes.
What it all boils down to though, is that we’ve got to do what it takes to finish the mission. Hesitation is a killer. Doubt is slow death. And there is no doubt in my mind of my own abilities. I go into this willingly, I fought to get sent on this deployment with my company, and I feel a deep responsibility towards the people around me in this unit, in my platoon, and in my squad.
Things might not always run smoothly, but there’s not a family out there that is perfect. And these men and women, even the ones I don’t always like very much, they’re my family. I will not let them down.
When it’s all said and done, America is a great nation, I support it with action and word, but what really makes me want to go over is the unit I belong to. Without the soldiers around me, I have no job. And with no job, I would have no reason to go on. These are my brothers and sisters and my cousins and crazy aunts and uncles.
These are the people that I’m going to lean on in the desert and who are depending on me and my team to keep their equipment running and the mission on the move.
All of those out there, protesting the war, your right to do that is what we’re in the service to protect. You have your moral objective, and we have our jobs. Whether or not anybody over here believes in war or politics or whatever, doesn’t really matter. Because we’re in this together, and we’re bound and determined to come out of it together. So go ahead and rally, but don’t curse us. We’re just doing our job.
Name: Tery Hometown: Louisville
My story is somewhat different than the others that I have been hearing. I’ve been partially responsible for a great deal of individuals that we have sent from the 123d AW in Louisville, Ky. I am a recruiter.
I have never been more proud of anyone as much as I was when at 5 a.m. we are sending off individuals that haven’t even had their first legal drink.
I pray that America is fully prepared to receive these brave individuals upon their safe return and compensate them the same. We are eternally in debt.
Name: L. Hometown: Yuma, AZ
Being the wife of a Marine makes me very proud. The tough part of this whole war/deployment, is that these men and women have to leave their children behind. We have a two-year-old and one day she grabbed her daddy’s hat and started calling his name trying to hand it to him. She ran to the front door still calling him to give him his hat. That just broke my heart.
I had to tell her daddy is gone bye-bye on the plane. He was gone last year missing her first words, walking, first birthday. This year we made until her birthday although he had to leave a few days later. Then these little ones have to get used to having daddy back, they have to adjust.
I try to be strong and not cry in front of my older child, who is nine, but she can see it sometimes. She even comforts me, telling me everything will be alright!
Maybe we should give Bush’s daughter a gun and send her to war, let his family feel the pain of not knowing if your loved one is safe, not talking or hearing from them for weeks, months at a time. Maybe then he’ll hurry this war up.
Name: Jana Hometown: Abita Springs, Louisiana
I knew, by 5 p.m. on September 11 that this day, in one shape or form, would eventually come to visit. I had no idea where he would be or what he would be doing, but I knew my husband would eventually be in the Middle East in harm’s way.
I began grieving even then, thinking that if I prepared for it, the situation, when it arrived, would be better. I am not the person I thought I was in terms of emotional strength. I have violent swings during the day, when a kind word or a question regarding his status will send me from a great mood to an onslaught of tears. I feel out of control sometimes, but know that I have to keep functional for my kids and for him. Sometimes it feels as though I’m moving in a daze, waiting for time to hurry, hurry, hurry. Then I am so proud of him and his incredible sacrifices.
Everyone, including the Iraqi soldiers and their families, are in my prayers every day.
Name: Izetta Lattergrass
“StanHaTaka” (White Buffalo Woman)
Hometown: New Town, ND
I am writing this for my grandson Kelson Jacob and my granddaughter Makalie Anne, the baby Khael is too young to realize his daddy has been deployed to a place called Iraq. Although our American Indian people have been among the most patriotic of the United States of America, I am very much against the war, very much against any war.
But, I support our American troops. God bless America and God bless the men and women in the United States Armed Forces. Please bring my son-in-law home to my grandchildren and my daughter and to our family.
Hometown: Fort Sill, Oklahoma
Each member of military service knows their branch. Having been in the Marine Corps, I can talk about that. But the Army? I couldn’t tell you much, except maybe the ranks. I’m about to be educated. As of 1000 hrs on 07 Feb 03, I am Traci, wife of a sargent and newest member of the Charlie Rock Family Readiness Group.
Knowing how important it is to my husband that I keep in touch with what is going on during the deployment, and wanting to make him as proud of me as I am of him, I involve myself in preparing for the deployment and the FRG.
By 21 Feb 03, I am mentally prepared for this deployment. My husband and I work so well together, sometimes we are amazed at the ease with which we get difficult tasks accomplished. During this time prior to his departure, which is in approximately two weeks, we have gotten married, are in the process of moving into a new home, taken care of all legal issues (power of attorney, emergency contact info, ID card, etc.), bought new furniture, had some quality family time and said good-bye to everyone.
Now that he has gone, I spend most of my nights sitting here in front of the computer, searching for information on the net. I’m not so much concerned about the news as I am in finding helpful articles and information to place on his battery website. My goal is to help keep these wives and family members informed.
I had figured that if I was to stay “in the rear with the gear,” then I’d better find something productive to do. Starting in January, I began to try to create this Website. Now, in March, I am still learning how to maintain the site, but things are going along great. The site is up, I have a message forum and guestbook, and have even created a community group for more detailed information. It’s nothing fancy or high-tech, but it accomplishes the mission.
Through the FRG and website, I have met several wonderful Charlie Rock wives who have become great friends. We are of different races, colors, nationalities, and religions, but we have some important things in common: we are wives of Charlie Rock, we love our soldiers, and we will lean on one another, pray with one another, laugh and cry with one another, and soon, we will plan a homecoming celebration together.
I wrote my husband the other day and told him all the things I have learned about the Army, his job, and the launcher. He’s going to be very shocked that I am not “speaking Marine” any longer. Ha Ha
He told me in his phone call last week that people were talking about the Website over in Kuwait. Hmmm, international celebrity? Nah...Ha Ha I’ve found my place in this world....as the wife of a U.S. Soldier.
April 1, 2003 / 11:02 AM ET
DRAINED AND ANGRY
Journal entry from Tamara: Today is day 11 of the war, it seems like 11 months. My addiction to real-time reports has left me drained and angry. Everyone is a professional critic. Commentary has become personal.
I worry that our nation’s hunger for information places the security of our soldiers at risk. I start to have mixed feelings about the embedded journalists. It is not their right to be present; it is a privilege.
Last week my Family Readiness Group made a video and banner for our unit. This meeting gives us the opportunity to ask questions; it is an arena for support. I also attended our monthly spouses’ coffee where we shared remedies to overcome stress and sadness. Yet, I can’t help but to feel overwhelmed. I have heard nothing from my husband since before the war. Although this is utterly painful, no news is good news.
As my baby continues to grow and kick inside me, I reflect on this great responsibility of raising a child; it is a precious gift. I desperately long for my husband to be near. Now, more than ever, I call on my faith.
March 28, 2003 / 11:40 AM ET
FEARS AND QUALMS
Your letters: As Americans come to terms with the fact that the U.S.-led war in Iraq will likely last for months, letters to Army Family Journal are conveying a new sense of fears about loved ones in the field and ambivalence about living in a state of war. In addition to letters from families of those serving in the military, this journal is also drawing substantial comment from readers around the world, some of them supportive of U.S. motives and methods, some of them critical. Here is a sampling:
Name: Melanie Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
I find myself in an awkward position, as I am sure many people my age are finding themselves. I am 26 and a college graduate. Normally, I would be fully opposed to the war and to President Bush.
The exception is that my little sister, who just turned 20, is an MP in the Army, a PFC, and is in Kuwait (last I heard).
I have an overwhelming sadness for her that I cannot explain. She joined the Army after graduating high school somewhat in part from pressure from my father, a retired Major in the Army, and somewhat out of confusion of what to do next ... a confusion that many recent graduates and 20-somethings feel.
Now she is half way around the world, away from her family, her friends and her home, thrown into a world of hatred and violence and death. And she is scared.
I have some relief in, although I hate to admit it, that since she is a woman, I know that she is not in direct combat. But what I am worried for, what breaks my heart most, is that she is all alone and scared, and that I cannot be there to protect her.
Now my normally liberal political beliefs and ideals are in question and being challenged. I am not for the war, that I know. But having said that, I would never want to give the impression that I do not support my soldiers.
I have found a new respect for those in the military who fight for us back home in the States and risk their lives for democracy. It is the bravest thing a person can do and it truly amazes me that these heroes fighting for a cause so much greater than us are so young.
I think that is the most admirable and brave thing a person can do, and it epitomizes what it means to be an American. I only hope that this puts faith back into the minds of so many who have lost faith in our youth.
Name: Nick Hometown: Pasadena, MD
Tamara, I am one who participated in anti-war protests in D.C. I cannot speak for every anti-war protester, though I can say that I myself do hope the soldiers remain safe and return home soon. Aside from political views, I protest the war because I feel freedom should be attained through peaceful methods, not war. I don’t support war because the violent decimation of people, of life, of this planet is tremendous. I do care for the soldiers, and their value of freedom is very honorable and righteous. I value the same freedom; our differences are within the method of achieving that freedom.
However ideal the thought of peaceful resolutions, it is a hope, and something for which to strive, especially because people need not die. Your life for freedom is a beautiful virtue, but I just wish we did not have to war. I hope the soldiers are not demoralized by anti-war protests; I hope the soldiers know that many anti-protesters only oppose the war, not their lives. I, and many, do care about the soldiers. I wish you and everyone perseverance in your troubles. I do not support the war, yet my concern for the soldiers’ lives and their safe, soon return home to all of you is steadfast. Remain strong, and never lose hope.
Name: Mary Ann Hometown: Parkville Missouri
I’m a 70-year-old Grandmother Of 15.
When my husband and I first got married in 1951, he got drafted and had to go to Germany during the Korean War. (Or was it just a police action?) We had a baby girl who didn’t see her daddy until she was 20 months old. Now I have three grandsons of an age to go to war. I don’t want this war, I don’t think it’s justified, but here we are in it.
God help us through this trying time!
Name: RT Hometown: South Dakota
My son turned 22 today. He’s somewhere in Iraq. His last e-mail said “I’m scared.” So am I. Words can’t describe the heaviness that your heart feels. God, please take care of our men and women and bring them home.
Name: Anonymous Hometown: Valliant, Oklahoma
Scent of my son
Is where I’m at right now
He left on a Sunday afternoon
Giving me the clothes he had worn the night before
To take home with me, his mom
I sleep with the blue
Name: Lorenzo Hometown: Window Rock, Arizona
I am a Navajo grandfather who has a Marine grandson who was deployed to Iraq. I myself am a Vietnam Veteran. As American Indian Warriors whose job it is to protect the family and land, it amazes me that although our land and life were taken from us, we Navajos still have pride to defend the U.S. and its people.
When my grandson was home from boot camp we talked about this. We also talked with our elders about this. The elders said, “You know we Navajos are very tolerant people. No matter what, we have our traditional ways of life. Our life is different from other people. We are unique and we call ourselves the Holy People. That is why we survived the brutal treatment in the past. We always depended upon our ways and thats is why we are survivors. Always pray for yourself to the sunrise and you shall be blessed.”
My grandson holds these teachings within his heart and that is why I know he will survive and come home to us.
Name: Mustansir Zakirhusain Hometown: Sri Lanka
Well, I guess you have no one else but to blame your own president George Bush for whatever that is happening now. While you are coping with your grief (I sympathize with you), please remember that your own loved ones are causing more grief in Iraq. You are doing this for oil and money. Hope its worth it.
Read more letters to Army Family Journal here.
March 24, 2003 / 3:25 PM ET
Journal entry from Tamara: It has been four days since air strikes began. At first, I had a strange sense of relief, because the anxiety and indecision was wearing on me. Now, as my husband approaches Baghdad, my fears are escalating. I watch the news relentlessly, trying to stay connected. Hours will pass before I realize the time. Even though we have no email contact, I check it three or four times a day and continue to send him mail.
In our last conversation, before the war started, Noel spoke of the soldiers with great pride. Even though I broke down when I heard his voice, as always, he had the strength for both of us. I hold consolation that we left nothing unsaid.
I am amazed daily on the support I received from family and friends through phone calls, e-mails, and letters. I am ever grateful.
My heart reaches out to the family and friends of lost soldiers. I am sorry they must endure this pain.
In the upcoming days, I pray that angels will provide guidance and protection for my husband and our soldiers.
March 23, 2003 / 7:25 PM ET
LONGING FOR LOVED ONES
Your letters: Army Family Journal began Feb. 24 as one expectant mother’s account of life as her husband shipped out to war. Since then, it has become a remarkable group experience, as Americans around the globe have sought emotional support as they share their experiences via e-mail. Since the U.S.-led assault on Iraq began on Wednesday, the responses have spiked, with letters coming in at some points at the rate of 300 per hour. The sentiments expressed by children, spouses, friends and neighbors are difficult to categorize. Many, but not all, approve of the war; most are supportive of the men and women in uniform. Some letters are angry, some are fearful. Some, like this first letter from a girl named Amanda, seek assurances that cannot be given and pose questions that cannot be answered:
Name: Amanda Hometown: Not disclosed
OK, I have a quick question for you people. My dad is in the war. He’s a nurse. He has lots of armored people around him, but he’s near the front of war. What’s the likely chance he will come home? I can take it. And can you let me know when war actually starts?
Thanks a whole bunch. Bye
Name: Crystal Hometown: Houston
I have a soldier from Fort Campbell. He is a part of the 101st Airborne Division. I have been friends with him since 1993. He was my first real boyfriend from school. Our moms eventually became good friends and have remained that way for almost 10 years now. We always celebrated holidays together. But when he enlisted after he graduated, nothing was the same.
We have had an on-again, off-again relationship that I will always cherish. He is truly and literally my “Soldier in Shining Armor.” I went to visit him last year, which was unfortunately the last time I saw him. I had a great time there in Kentucky.
I just want to tell everyone that is waiting for their soldier, you are not alone. You may have a next-door neighbor waiting on a son. Or maybe the waiter at the restaurant is waiting for his wife. Everyone is waiting for someone.
But it is our love, honor, respect, and appreciation that we have for these troops that will give us the strength that we need to go on. John is not my husband. He is not my boyfriend, brother or son. He is my protector.
Name: Danielle Hometown: Jacksonville
My sister, Nicole, is 21 years old and a veteran of the United States Navy. While in Bethesda she met a marine. They soon moved in with each other and shortly after married. They lived outside of Camp Lejeune.
When her husband got orders that he was leaving, they packed up the house and shut of the electricity and Nicole made plans to come back home to Buffalo. But he didn’t leave. They went for a week with out electricity.
When the true time came they had to go through their sad and emotional departure again. Her love, husband and best friend was leaving.
Nicole came home with me and she now leaves the house whenever the President talks. She can’t bear to listen. When she watches CNN, she cries. She knows that her husband is strong and is thinking about her, too, but she is lost without him. She prays at night, as she lies with her puppy, that her sergeant husband will come home safe and soon.
When he comes home they have plans to buy a house and have a child.
Name: N.G.C. Hometown: IL
I recently located my father after 10 years of searching. My parents divorced when I was very young and I completely lost contact with him. After conducting my own search through a people-find agency I found his address and phone number. I called and a lady answered the phone. My stepmother was very happy to hear that I had located her and my father. When I asked to speak to him she somberly told me that he is deployed to the Middle East.
My mind has been racing since that call in November. I think of how long it has taken me to find my father and what if I never get to meet him. I feel like I have waited so long not knowing where he is, and now that I do, finding him is almost bittersweet.
I am able to e-mail him and I talk to him on the phone whenever he gets the chance to call (which is not often), but that is not the same as truly meeting him and beginning a relationship with him.
My father and all of the other brave men and women who are willingly protecting the principles and freedoms that this country was founded on are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.
Read more letters here.
March 19, 2003 / 7:31 PM ET
BRINK OF WAR
Journal entry from Tamara: I have thrown my energy into decorating the nursery and assembling a giant care package for Noel. As tension in our nation escalates, I long for the monotony of ordinary times. I fill my days with distractions, but it does not take away the pit that dwells in the base of my belly. In the quiet of the night, peace does not reside; the fear is real.
I gathered with friends to watch President Bush on Monday night. We listened intently and spoke openly about our uneasiness and anxiety of the potential calamity. We remain strong for one another, for our husbands, and families.
As the deadline draws near, it is difficult to concentrate. I pray for angels to place protection around our soldiers. I implore the nation to set political views aside and purely support our troops.
March 18, 2003 / 6:41 PM ET
E-MAIL FROM FAMILIES
Your letters: As war with Iraq looms closer, hundreds more e-mails have poured in to Army Family Journal. Here’s a link to the latest Letters to Tamara, in which military spouses of all ages and stages in life share their feelings about developments in Iraq and at home.
March 12, 2003 / 1:36 PM ET
60 DAYS GONE
Journal entry from Tamara: I spent the weekend with my friend, a fellow Army spouse, trying to pass the time and celebrate our pregnancies. She is due 10 days after me. We shopped for maternity clothes and giggled at the changes in our growing bodies — reassuring each other that we still look beautiful.
We spent Saturday evening at an Army Officer’s Spouses fundraiser. This annual event is open to spouses, their husbands and the community to raise money for scholarships. The only piece that was missing was our husbands. After a moment of silence to honor the soldiers, the room came alive with laughter and merriment. It was so refreshing to forget the adversity we share and have a sense of normalcy.
I awoke Sunday morning to the sound of the phone — it was Noel. Although our call was more than brief and a poor connection, we were able to exchange significant updates. More importantly, I had the opportunity to say, “I love you.” I am so grateful that we had the chance to speak. He was in good spirits and the sound of his voice revived my inner strength.
I am very empathetic toward the wives and husbands who have not had recent communication with their spouses. Many do not realize the great efforts soldiers devote to make contact with family members and loved ones. Some remain in long lines for hours through the middle of the night, just to talk for a few precious minutes. Others have no access to e-mail or phones; letters are their lifelines.
As days of uncertainty continue, with the rest of the nation, I wait.
Here’s a link to your e-mail in response to An Army Family Journal
March 3, 2003 / 6:36 PM ET
WHAT ‘ALONE’ FEELS LIKE
Journal entry from Tamara: This week has been filled with emotion. I ordered the crib and linens for the baby. I had been procrastinating, as if I waited long enough, he would come home for us to purchase it together.
I was so tired Friday night that I fell asleep with the TV on. I missed Noel’s call. My heart fell to my stomach when I saw the flashing light of the answering machine. I did not have the opportunity to tell him that I loved him. I saved his message so I can listen to the sound of his voice when I feel alone. I don’t know when he will call again.
I share my feelings with the other wives — my military family — and find comfort. As I ran errands this weekend, I was amazed at how many women are sharing my sadness and fear. There is a common bond at every turn, the grocery store, the mall, and the Starbuck’s coffee counter. We are all connected to the crisis.
As I watch the anti-war protests on the news, I wonder what effect it has on the morale of the soldiers. I believe strongly in the expression of free speech and do not pass judgment. In fact, I think the protests make me stronger. It forces me to reflect on the values of the man I married.
My husband is not a soldier because he supports war; he is a soldier because he believes in freedom. This passionate attribute gives him the courage and steadfastness to place himself in harm’s way in order to protect the liberties of our country. He is a patriot; he feels it is his duty. This is one of the reasons I fell so deeply in love with him.
Feb. 24, 2003 / 6:36 PM ET
COUNTING THE DAYS
Journal entry from Tamara: I can hardly believe that it has only been 45 days since Noel’s departure; it seems so much longer. I miss everything about him. This has been the hardest separation since our marriage.
I e-mail him two and three times a day detailing my activities, life back home with our two cats, my job, and the growing baby inside me. Then I wait, anxiously, for a reply or a morale call. As the weeks pass by, I hear from him less frequently. When I do, the correspondence is short and to the point. I can feel the exhaustion in his words from intense training.
With his absence, I own all the responsibilities of everyday life. I used to value my independence and ability to function completely on my own. Now I long for the strength that I have found in my soul mate; the partnership created in our marriage. I didn’t think it would be this difficult, but the pregnancy intensifies my yearning to be near my husband.
There is only so much that words and pictures can adequately portray. As I prepare for the birth of our child it is hard for excitement not to be mixed with sadness, it is truly bittersweet.
The news is arduous to watch…I catch the highlights and then go about my day. The fear of the unknown can be overwhelming. It plagues my thoughts. At night, I pray for God to wash trepidation away and send angels to watch over my husband and the soldiers.
Each day that passes, I throw myself into my work and lean on family and friends for support. I am very blessed and grateful for the circle of love and prayer that surrounds me. It lifts me up and keeps me strong for my husband. I pray for all the other wives and families that are sharing my experience. My story is only one of many.