Ravens help families connect with U.S. troops in Afghanistan

This year's feed will feature members of Task Force Raven from Havre de Grace

October 29, 2011|By Julie Baughman, The Baltimore Sun

When she saw her father's face appear on the massive video screen at M&T Bank Stadium on Friday, Caryn Waters couldn't hold back tears. Maj. Louis Waters Jr. smiled at her over a satellite feed from a military base in Afghanistan.

The Maryland National Guard officer and his daughter have tried to keep in touch during his first tour of duty, though it's hard, given the time difference and Caryn's school schedule. They talk on the phone when they can and have video-chatted once via Skype. But that couldn't compare with seeing him on the big screen.

"I haven't seen him in forever," said Caryn, a senior at Catholic High School, as she sobbed quietly.

Friday's connection was a test for the live feed that will take place at Sunday's Ravens game for the franchise's annual Salute to Service.

It will be the fifth time the National Guard has teamed with the Ravens to provide a live feed from overseas during the Salute to Service game. This year's feed will feature members of Task Force Raven — the 1297th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion — who have been stationed for six months in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Task Force Raven is based in Havre de Grace.

Waters is one of six soldiers featured in the feed; his sister, brother, and mother were present at Friday's test with his daughter. His mother, Karen Waters, reacted similarly to her granddaughter as she saw her son for the first time since May.

"He looks good," she exclaimed with tears in her eyes.

"Look at his big smile," said Waters' sister, Koren.

Karen Waters said she writes to her son "all the time," and Koren and Caryn speak on the phone with him as much as possible.

"When I'm going to sleep, he's getting up to go to work," Caryn said. "It's rough."

His family members were grateful for the chance to see and speak with him, and they're trying to decide which of them will get the two tickets they have been awarded by the Ravens to see him again on Sunday at the game.

"I want one of those tickets!" Karen Walters said. "He's a Ravens fan. … He'd be very proud to be up on the screen."

Sgt. 1st Class David Rosendale was also in attendance Friday and was overjoyed at the chance to see that his wife, Capt. Chantal Fogarty, was safe and well.

"I think it's fantastic," Rosendale said of the Ravens' partnership with the National Guard. "It's a really great feeling."

Rosendale served two tours for the National Guard — one in Iraq and one in Germany — and said he's been concerned about his wife because this is her first.

"I know where she's at in Kandahar. They have a higher probability of rocket attacks," he said.

Rosendale said that he and his wife have been able to spend only about half of their seven-year marriage together.

xcxjbaughman@baltsun.com

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