Marine from Catonsville aids in rescue of 12 at Saudi town WAR IN THE GULF


February 01, 1991|By David Michael Ettlin

A Marine Corps captain from Catonsville took part in yesterday's rescue of a dozen Marines trapped behind enemy lines when Iraqi soldiers overran the Saudi town of Khafji.

"They were relieved to see us," Capt. John Borth, one of the Marines sent into Khafji to pick up the 12 men, told a reporter in the desert. "They looked real tired and worn out."

An account of the rescue was the latest in more than a week of news media reports from the war front to feature the 27-year-old captain -- including television and radio interviews that have reassured his wife, Karyn, and parents, Edward and Florence Borth, of his safety.

Captain Borth commands a TOW-missile platoon near Khafji that has been in the thick of border skirmishes between Iraqi and U.S.-allied forces.

"The scariest moment was hearing there had been casualties," Captain Borth's wife said of Wednesday's accounts of Marines killed in the Iraqi attack. "We had no idea how long it would take for the families to be notified, but I got a call at 4:40 Wednesday afternoon after my brother-in-law had heard John being interviewed. CBS carried the report over WBAL [radio]. That was just such an incredible relief.

"Last night we saw him on CNN, and ABC and NBC," she said, adding that her father-in-law had a growing collection of videotapes on the war -- including occasional sightings and interviews of her husband.

"It's very scary, but it's exciting," Mrs. Borth said of the broadcasts showing her husband. "There are how many hundreds of thousands of guys who are over there, and I'm lucky enough to turn on the TV and see my husband over there."

The videotapes join other family gulf war memorabilia, including photos of Captain Borth with such dignitaries as White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of allied troops in the gulf.

Mrs. Borth said the photos were taken when President Bush had Thanksgiving dinner with soldiers on duty in the Saudi desert. Her husband -- who was a lieutenant then -- was Mr. Sununu's personal escort during the visit.

Captain Borth, who was promoted to his current rank in December, enlisted in the Marine Corps after his high school graduation and earned his bachelor's degree in economics from UMBC in 1986 through a military Platoon Leaders Class program.

Mrs. Borth said she was a student at Towson State University when she met her husband through mutual friends. The couple -- now with 21-month-old daughter Kelly Lelani -- made their home in Hawaii. Her husband had returned from a year of assignments in Okinawa and Thailand on the day Iraq invaded Kuwait.

"We were all involved in our own little personal lives and personal happiness of the moment, and it wasn't until a few days later that reality hit us, and we realized what was going on the Middle East and John's unit was going to be deployed," she said. "Some wives only got to see their husbands for 10 days. I was lucky. He was home for four weeks."

Mrs. Borth has moved in with her parents, a few blocks from her husband's family.

She said daughter Kelly had been given little chance to get to know her father, but "she knows her daddy when she sees his face, on TV or in pictures. I show her his picture every day, faithfully."

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