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Military families comfort each other

April 04, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

One mother tells the stars to send a message to her son: "I love you." Another searches the Internet for any signs of her son.

In this crowd, crying is allowed.

About 20 people shared their photographs, memories and tears at the first meeting of a support group for people with loved ones serving in the military.

Lynn Jones, who organized the Thursday night meeting at St. James Catholic Church in downtown Boonsboro, has two children in the military, but neither have been deployed.

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Her 22-year-old son, Kevin Hurlbrink, is on two-hour standby with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. Her 19-year-old daughter Kelly Hurlbrink, is training at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"I'm proud of everybody's family members because to me they're all patriots," she said. "We're all in this together."

Cindy Blackstock Kline, director of emergency services for the local chapter of the American Red Cross, started the session by telling the group about the services the Red Cross can provide for them.

Blackstock Kline, who said she grew up a Navy brat and later married a Navy officer, said, "When this is all said and done, the bonds you make with people will last a lifetime."

Jones opened the floor for families to share stories of their loved ones.

Pat Bolland, 50, said her son Glenn Bolland, 22, is serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Her friends found a Web site exclusively for her son's troop, which she has used to clip photographs and news updates to put into a scrapbook for Glenn.

"It gives me something to do with my time," she said.

Her husband, Fred Bolland, 57, has been a soccer instructor in the town for many years, she said.

Bolland, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division stood up to speak, but he had trouble getting his thoughts across as he choked back tears.

He said he hoped the war would end as soon as possible.

"He knows these boys from the time they started kicking the ball in the wrong goal and now they're out on the field," Pat Bolland said after the meeting.

Glenn Bolland, who is stationed in Italy, is wearing his father's wings. Fred Bolland wears his son's wings to work.

Terry and Susie Sholty, of Boonsboro, said their son Nick, 21, is going to school to be a recruiting officer for the Army. They said he was in a troop ready to deploy to Iraq when the military decided to send him to school.

"He knows he'd be on the front lines and he's really torn," Susie Sholty said.

Dale Fitzgerald, 47, of Boonsboro, said her son Michael Fitzgerald, 19, a paratrooper with the 18th Airborne Corps Field Artillery Division, knows that every night at 9 p.m. she goes outside and says "I love you" to the moonlit sky.

"I'm a mom," she said. "I figure we're all looking at the same night sky."

Steve Walla, a Vietnam-era veteran, stood up to share his support for the troops and their families.

"I have no kids in the military," he said. "The support we had was nil. All we would see when we turned on the television was protests at the University of Maryland."

Jones said she wasn't surprised at the number of people who turned out for the support group.

"This area has a lot of kids that joined the military," she said.

The group voted to hold the sessions at 7 p.m. every Thursday at the church.

"We'll keep doing it until we don't need it anymore," Jones said.

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