Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Watches, Prays for Son Fighting in Iraq; Callahan: They Receive Support from Their Friends

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Watches, Prays for Son Fighting in Iraq; Callahan: They Receive Support from Their Friends

Article excerpt

Byline: Amelia A. Hart, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

The television in Tammy and Jim Keeton's Callahan home was tuned to CNN.

"See that red spot? That's where Josh is," Tammy Keeton said.

That "red spot" was a column of Iraqi armor heading toward where the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry -- and her son, Spc. Josh Keeton, 19 -- were stalled by a sandstorm 50 miles south of Baghdad.

The TV is on all the time now in the Keeton house, switched on at 4:30 a.m. when Jim Keeton gets up to head to his job as a millwright at Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. When Tammy Keeton is home from her job as a cosmetologist/aesthetician at First Coast Hair and Nail Salon, Tammy has the TV on, too, watching until midnight or 1 in the morning.

"This is what we do every day," she said. "It's a lifeline; it's the closest I can get to my son."

The last time the Keetons saw their son was in October at Fort Stewart in Georgia, the month before he was deployed to the Middle East. The last time they spoke to him was eight weeks ago from Kuwait.

"He felt very good, said he believed in what President Bush was doing, and told us that was what he wanted to be doing," Tammy Keeton said.

The last time they heard from their son was March 25, when they received two letters from him, one dated March 10.

"He said that by the time we received the letter he would have headed north, and don't get upset," Tammy Keeton said.

The Keetons worry for Josh, praying for his safety and the safe return of all of American servicemen and -women.

But even as they worry and pray, the support that carries them through arrives every day, unasked for and unexpected. A note from one of Tammy's clients, thanking the Keetons for raising a son who would serve his country in the military. A call from one of Josh's old teachers asking for an address to write to him. …

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