Troops' Families Worry Together

Fellowship Brings Understanding, Support

January 09, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Lord, Lord, we got to stop the hating,

And no time for trying,

When the kids are going hungry,

And the good men are dying,

It's got to be now, now, now,

Got to be now,

We got to have peace,

Peace, Lord, we got to have peace.

"Peace Brother Peace"

by Barry Mann

WESTMINSTER -- They carry pictures of their sons and brothers with them, both before the young men went in the military and after.

They sport yellow ribbons on their shirts.

At their homes, their windows burn with a single orange light and the treesin their yard are decorated with more yellow bows.

When they cometogether, they display the pictures and the newspaper clippings, andshare prayers and any information they have about Operation Desert Shield.

And they ask questions: Do they have hot water over there?

"I sent him instant oatmeal," one mother said, "But I didn't know if they could heat water."

Another mother logically assured her they must have hot water. "Well, they have coffee, so they have hot water for that," she said.

"Do they have sugar over there, I wonder?"another asked. "I sent him packets of Kool-Aid and it wasn't pre-sweetened."

A staff sergeant from the Army National Guard unit in Westminster brought a packet of MRE's -- Meals Ready to Eat -- that the servicemen in the Persian Gulf are issued, to show to the parents andsister.

The dark brown envelopes don't look very appetizing, but Sgt. Blaine Brown assured them, when water is added, "It's really good."

And, yes, the MRE's did include sugar, salt, coffee, creamer and even a tiny pack of toilet paper.

They wondered how long it wastaking for their sons to get their packages and letters. One mother said her son got his mail in about 10 days, while letters from him were received in only four or five days.

Still, when the six families who met as the Operation Desert Shield Support Group left the library Saturday afternoon, their anxieties over the safety and comfort oftheir sons and brother were not considerably diminished.

What they did get from the meeting was some comfort simply from having someone to talk to who was in the same situation.

"We just wanted to know if there was any interest in a group like this," said Donna Jones of Westminster, whose son has been in Saudi Arabia since Aug. 7.

"You know, if you don't have a son over there, your friends get tired of hearing you talk about it."

Mary Carter-Cross's first born and only son, Joe, has been in Saudi Arabia since Sept. 23. She, too, needed someone to talk to.

"People say they understand, but unless they're going through the same thing, they don't understand," the New Windsor woman said.

Cross remembers the day Joe left for the PersianGulf with anguish, because it was a Sunday evening, and normally shecalled his Army base on Saturdays to talk to him.

"When they toldme he had been transferred out at 10 a.m. that morning, I screamed, I screamed. It was as if my heart was ripped out of me."

Even harder for her to bear is the reminder that it was because she was pregnant with Joe is what kept Cross's husband from having to go to Vietnam22 years ago.

"He saved his father, but he couldn't save himself from going in a war situation," she said, the pain showing on her face. "That thought will cross my mind so many times."

Tanya Prettyman of Westminster has just begun her vigil. Son Craig Mazeska, a Marine, left for the Gulf Dec. 29. She doesn't know where he is.

Christina Hall of Westminster doesn't know where her brother, Marine Russ Miller, is either. In Saudi Arabia since the first week of August, Miller has called his sister twice.

"What scares me is we don't know where he is," she said. "They took him off his ship and brought it back for repairs and left him there wherever."

Another fear for Halland Cross is the military decision to lengthen an individual's stay in the Gulf from six months to one year.

And even though Cross's son is a mechanic, he may see some action if it comes to it.

"They all have to be prepared to fight, along with their specialty," Cross said.

Also at the meeting were Sue Green of Westminster, whose son, Marine Lt. Michael Green, was deployed to Saudi Arabia Aug. 25; andThomas and Pamela Stedtler of Owings Mills, whose son, Philip E. Cole, left Dec. 3.

"I have one orange light in my window and it was lit Christmas Eve and it will not go out until he comes out of the desert," said Pamela Stedtler.

Joining hands, the group ended the meeting with two prayers for the safety of their sons and brother. And for peace.

The Operation Desert Shield Support Group, founded by Nancy Spaugh of Westminster (whose son, Gerald Rosier, 21, is in the Gulf) will have a pot-luck fellowship supper meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Union Memorial Church, 160 S. Center St., Westminster. Anyone with a relative or friend serving in Saudi Arabia is welcome. For information, call Donna Jones at 848-8903.

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