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Family carries on

April 01, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Editor's note: This is one in a series of occasional stories focusing on families of members of the military serving in the war against Iraq.




pepperb@herald-mail.com

The McCauley family never thought the U.S. Army Reserve would take Sgt. Kenny McCauley for much more than the usual one weekend a month.

They were wrong.

McCauley, 36, an 18-year Army reservist who most recently worked as a generator mechanic, got orders to join the 220th Military Police Brigade out of Gaithersburg, Md., in January.

"We immediately thought deployment," his wife Kelly McCauley, 37, said, but they thought he would be stationed in the United States.

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Sgt. McCauley left Jan. 16 for Fort Dix, N.J., and on Feb. 21 was deployed to Kuwait, where he has been working as a supply sergeant, distributing weapons, ammunition and food to troops.

Kelly McCauley is in contact with her husband of 13 years only through e-mails and brief phone calls.

"I think he tries to keep himself up because he knows how upset I've been getting," she said.

The first few days of the war, she said, she watched the news nonstop, even leaving the television on while she slept.

"I would hear the names of those camps that my husband's close to or traveling to and wake up," she said.

Her husband recently called to say he was leaving his camp for an unknown destination.

"The waiting isn't bad, if I knew he was safe I'd be OK with it. But with him traveling, I just don't know," she said, her eyes misty.

Kelly McCauley isn't the only one in the family showing signs of anxiety.

The McCauleys' youngest son, 19-month-old Ryan, looks for his dad in the closet.

"He sees his clothes in there and thinks he's in there," Kelly McCauley said.

Their son Brandon, 11, is distancing himself from the situation, she said.

Kelly McCauley said she's been trying to pay more attention to the children. And she misses the help her husband provided in raising three sons.

Although he is receiving full military pay, it doesn't match his civilian salary and Kelly McCauley, who works full time in accounting at Phoenix Color, said the family's income has dropped by $1,400 a month.

She said her husband will return to his civilian job for Central Pension Fund in Washington, D.C., when he returns.

Kelly McCauley said the family isn't spending as much money on entertainment by cutting back on dinners out, movies and shopping. A scheduled trip to Florida this summer has been canceled and she's debating whether the family will make it to the beach instead.

Her oldest son, Devon Vinci, 16, has been picking up some household slack by baby-sitting. He soon will have his driver's license and will be able to help his mother by driving Brandon and himself to baseball practices.

Kenny McCauley's brother has attended all of Brandon's basketball games and Kelly McCauley's mother has been calling her every night to check on her. She helps baby-sit and brings leftovers when she can.

In addition to worrying about her children's well-being, Kelly McCauley worries about her husband.

The family is collecting some of his favorite snacks - sunflower seeds, sourdough pretzels and chocolate-covered peanuts - to send to him.

Kenny McCauley sent the family a camel that plays a children's tune sung in Arabic and a teddy bear dressed in the familiar camouflage fatigues of The Gulf War, with words written across the chest: "Someone in Arifjan loves me."

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