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With husband overseas, woman returns to home

April 19, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Travis Morgan, a plumber in the U.S. Air Force's 332nd Air Expeditionary Group, is due back from Kuwait in September.

Until then, his wife, Catherine, is surrounding herself with family - his, hers and theirs.

Travis and Catherine Morgan grew up in Boonsboro, but they've lived at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont., since he was stationed there about two years ago.

When Travis' unit was deployed to Kuwait last month, Catherine decided to move back to Washington County with the couple's two children and three dogs.

"We're staying until he gets home," she said.

Catherine - with help from her best friend - drove the children and dogs across the country. They left Friday, April 4, and arrived Monday, April 7. They covered 2,500 miles

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Catherine and the children - daughter Ciana, 31/2, and son DeLyn, who turns 1 Wednesday - have settled in with Catherine's grandparents, Stephen and Edna Heffner, south of Keedysville.

Stephen Heffner served in the U.S. Army during World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Edna Heffner's brother, Richard W. Huntzberry, also fought in the war, with the 34th Infantry Division. He was killed in action on Sept. 22, 1944.

Besides her grandparents, Catherine Morgan has plenty of other relatives to rely on in this area.

Travis's parents live in Boonsboro. His grandparents are in Bolivar, W.Va., and Joppa, Md., northeast of Maryland.

Catherine's mother is in Sharpsburg. Her father is in Hagerstown.

"That's been the biggest help," Catherine, 25, said. "I love my 'family' in the military, but there's nothing like my real family."

While he's working with a civil engineering group in Kuwait, Travis Morgan, 24, is missing some magical fatherly moments.

"It's tough telling him things over the phone," Catherine said.

Still, she doesn't regret their way of life.

"I'm behind him no matter what he does," she said. "I'm behind him 110 percent."

A T-shirt hangs on the wall of her grandparents' home. "My husband is in the Air Force," it says, around a photo of the couple.

Travis Morgan was supposed to be part of a team that went to Afghanistan after Sept. 11, but he had dental problems and didn't go. Instead, he was sent to Kuwait in March. The couple knew deployment day would come, but they still struggled with it.

"I was holding strong for the kids," Catherine said. "We knew it was going to happen."

Nevertheless, sadness clobbered her one day when she washed her husband's camouflage gear. She wept.

Catherine and Travis talk every few days over an echoing phone line and e-mail each other between calls.

She said her husband's spirit is high, although he had a down period when he had a moistness in his voice.

"He blamed it on allergies," she said.

For a while, DeLyn called up the stairs for "Dada," but he may have figured out that doesn't work anymore.

Ciana is keener. She watched the latest war news one day and concluded, "Some bad guys surrendered, some didn't, so Daddy's not coming home yet."

In her daily prayers, Ciana says, "God bless America, God bless the world. Daddy fights the bad guys to keep us safe. Amen."

Catherine and Travis didn't know each other at Boonsboro High School. They met when Travis worked at a dealership in Hagerstown and tried to sell her a car.

"Instead of walking out with a car," she said, "I walked out with a date."

Catherine said she misses her husband, but she loves him and his military career, which is more secure than selling cars.

"I'm proud to be an Air Force wife," she said. "I'm proud of my husband. I'm proud of my mother-in-law for raising a wonderful man."

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