Son of Rep. Byron is flying Air Force missions in...

DESERT STORM-Notes from the home front

February 06, 1991

Son of Rep. Byron is flying Air Force missions in gulf

Maryland Rep. Beverly Byron, D-6th, has a son flying missions for the Air Force in Operation Desert Storm.

Byron has kept quiet the fact that Air Force Reserve Capt. Kimball Byron, 35, of Baltimore, was ordered to the Persian Gulf Dec. 26. He pilots KC-10 refueling jets that also can be used to transport cargo.

"My child is no different from anybody else's," Beverly Byron said, explaining her reluctance to publicize his role. "I'm just as concerned about the young son of a woman I talked to the other day in Boonsboro."

Given the war, Byron holds a particularly sensitive post, head of the Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on military personnel and compensation. In that capacity, she meets frequently with troops and their families around the world.

On Jan. 12, she voted with the House majority to authorize the use of force in the gulf. She was asked whether, as a mother, she worries about her son.

"I worry much more about some other young people I know that are there [in the gulf] in much more difficult positions," she says.

The congresswoman also knows what it's like to be a military wife. "In '56 and '57 I was a military dependent in Germany with two small children," she says, referring to the time her husband, the late Rep. Goodloe Byron, was in the Army.

Disclosure of her son's gulf duty was made by Roll Call, a private newspaper serving Capitol Hill. The newspaper reported that four other members have sons serving in the gulf: Reps. "Kika" de la Garza, D-Texas; Ike Skelton, D-Mo.; Jerry Costello, D-Ill.; and Doug Barnard Jr., D-Ga. The son of Rep. William L. Dickinson, R-Ala., is scheduled to go to the gulf March 1.


For 19 years, Jane S. Wood had wondered about the man named on her POW bracelet.

The Baltimore woman still doesn't know what happened to the man who is listed on her bracelet as Air Force Capt. Donald E. Shay Jr. But she was stunned to find out that Shay's mother, Frances Shay lives so nearby.

"It gave me chills, but they were good chills," said Wood, who first learned of Mrs. Shay in a story written by The Evening Sun's Joe Nawrozki. The Linthicum woman has been flying an American flag since 1970, the year her son disappeared.

Wood, a 40-year-old office manager who once served in the Navy, said there was one discrepancy. Shay said her son was a major when he was shot down over Laos on an unarmed photo reconnaissance mission; her bracelet identifies him as a captain.

But everything else jibes. Wood now plans to write Mrs. Shay.

She also has started wearing the bracelet again, despite the fact that it cuts into her arm at times. Wood said she has decided she doesn't mind it so much.


Sen. Barbara Mikulski visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Monday to determine if the facility is prepared to handle casualties from Operation Desert Storm.

"You do what you can with what you've got as quickly as possible," said Mikulski, D-Md. "We have to be ingenious, as we are, with our facilities."

In a briefing with Mikulski, Walter Reed officials said they have been working hard to prepare for possible casualties. Though the bulk of gulf casualties will be sent to Europe, Walter Reed officials said the Washington facility will be one of the major receiving points in the United States.

Staffing will be one of its biggest challenges. Some 200 Walter Reed staff members are now serving in Operation Desert Storm. Officials at Walter Reed and other medical hospitals hope to draw on reserve units that plan to make about 1,400 medical personnel available by the end of this week.

Laura Lippman, John Fairhall, Patty Stubbs of States News Service and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

If you know of an interesting story of how the war is affecting people on the home front, please call 332-6478.

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