Staff Sgt. Vivian Price-Butler stood at ease today among the Marine reserves in civilian clothes. She wiped her eyes and stared at her sister, who stood among the relatives on the gymnasium floor and held Price-Butler's 6-month-old son.
The commander dismissed the reservists briefly and Price-Butler immediately went to her son.
"You sheepy. You look sheepy," she said, taking the child. Her son lay quietly in her arms.
Price-Butler, 28, of East Baltimore, was one of about 140 Marine reservists of the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion Headquarters and Service Company who left today for California.
The reservists, who assembled at the Marine training center off Northern Parkway in northeast Baltimore, will receive additional training at Camp Pendleton and possible duty in Saudi Arabia, according to reserve officials.
"This isn't fair for her to have to go," said Kim Price, Price-Butler's sister. "She only had her baby six months and she's going to be apart from her baby for who knows how long."
Price-Butler has administrative duty in the reserves. Her civilian job is as an inspector of Patriot missile system parts at Allied Signal, a defense contractor in Hunt Valley.
Price-Butler, who also has an 8-year-old daughter, found out only a couple of weeks ago she was being sent to California and a possible assignment in Saudi Arabia.
Her husband, Marine Staff Sgt. Samuel Butler, said he and his wife had talked often during the last six months about the possibility of either of them being sent to the Persian Gulf.
"It's not something that we weren't totally unprepared for," said Butler, 28, who is stationed in Washington at the Marine headquarters building. "I don't want her to go, but I understand and she understands. She wants to go."
Butler said he and the two children will stay with his parents in the Washington suburbs.
"All we can do is write and read her letters and hope for her to hurry up and come back," Butler said.