Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Local Families Await Return of Soldiers; Those Left at Home Cling to War Updates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Local Families Await Return of Soldiers; Those Left at Home Cling to War Updates

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson, Times-Union staff writer

Amy Carter is still Christmas shopping. She has plenty of time but she wishes she had less.

Her husband, Spc. Christopher Carter, left home in October with the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) for deployment in Iraq.

An artificial Christmas tree stands in the corner of the new mobile home in Atkinson they shared for a week before his deployment. Beneath it are gifts that will be opened only when Christopher comes home, a home with walls hung with pictures from their wedding and honeymoon.

Amy now spends time with his parents, Tim and Karen Carter, who live just down the road from her in Atkinson.

They haven't heard from Christopher since the 3rd Infantry moved into Iraq, but they knew he was fine Thursday because they saw him on television. As David Bloom, an NBC reporter embedded with the 3rd Infantry, offered his report, Christopher stepped out of a Bradley fighting vehicle and walked behind Bloom.

"The picture was kind of fuzzy, but that was him,'' Amy Carter said. "We know his walk.''

Such are the ways some families in Southeast Georgia cling to the whereabouts of their fighting young.

In Waycross, William and Janice Parks haven't heard from their son, Staff Sgt. Bill Parks, who is with the 101st Airborne Infantry (Air Assault), in several days.

The last word they heard from their daughter-in-law, Brandi Parks in Clarksville, Tenn., was that the unit was doing fine.

As an organizer of the annual Pogofest event in Waycross, Janice Parks had other things to worry about. But the weekend festival was too mild a diversion to do much good.

Hanging up the telephone after talking to a vendor, she said, "We have Pogofest and now this damn war is getting in my way."

She sat behind the understandably cluttered desk in her husband's law and accounting office. Because of the nature of her son's specialty, she can't talk about what he does.

Parks knows her son is good at what he does and that the Iraqis are poorly prepared for the Americans.

"My greatest fear is that one Iraqi soldier or civilian with one gun . . . and I guess that's the men's fear,'' she said.

The stories of the Iraqi soldiers hiding behind civilians are especially troubling.

"I know he can handle it, but I don't want him to be in that situation with the civilians, the women and children," she said.

There is also the realization that the soldiers in the 101st would die for their comrades, the men who were their neighbors back at Fort Campbell, Ky.

"These are families. These are neighbors. They said 'Good morning' to each other,'' she said. ''Then they got on a convoy truck and they're gone to war.''

William Parks is concerned that the Pentagon is fighting the war too cautiously.

"You look on TV, the lights are on and they're driving around in Baghdad,'' he said. …

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