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Military sons honored in Greencastle, Pa.

April 21, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The parents of four Greencastle-area servicemen have put photos of their sons on display in the front window of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber offered its window space to honor military personnel from the Greencastle-Antrim area who are serving during the war in Iraq, according to Holly Burkett, chamber administrative assistant.

Included among the photos in the chamber office at 217 E. Baltimore St. are two of Matthew Jansen, 23, son of Mark and Sheree Jansen on Weaver Road.

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Matthew is a helicopter crewman aboard a Navy ammunition supply ship attached to the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman stationed off the coast of Syria, his mother said.

Jansen comes from a family of Navy men, including his father, who served during the Vietnam War era and his grandfather, who was in World War II.

Jansen, a 1997 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, is married to Michelle Spidel. The two went to school together in Greencastle from first grade through high school, his mother said. They live in Virginia Beach, Va.

Sheree Jansen last saw her son at the end of November. She spoke with him by phone March 19, the day before the war with Iraq began. There was no word until April 5, when he left a message on his parents' answering machine. His ship was off the coast of Syria. She said her son used code words to say where he was in both phone calls.

She said she was on pins and needles during the three weeks he couldn't call. All she knew was that her son's ship was heading into harm's way. She said she learned where the Truman battle group was through television news.

Byron Wingert, 27, son of Larry and Patricia Wingert of South Washington Street, is in an Army military police unit in Kuwait. He shipped out a week ago.

"He's supposed to be there for nine months, but things can always change in the Army," his mother said.

Patricia Wingert said she also brought a photo of Gene Goodwin, her son's grandfather, to display in the chamber window. He served in the Army Air Force in World War II, she said.

"I replaced the Easter decorations on my front door with a photo of Byron, the flag, yellow ribbons and a poster of 'God Bless Our Troops,'" she said.

Photos of U.S. Air Force brothers Daniel and Adam Conrad, 24 and 18, respectively, also are on display in the window.

They were put there by their parents, Ronald and Judy Conrad of Hykes Road.

Daniel, a staff sergeant and a crew chief on a C-130 cargo plane stationed in Little Rock, Ark., joined the Air Force in 1997, his mother said.

Adam joined in August and holds the rank of airman first class. He, too, is a crew chief. His plane is a KC-135 tanker, but he has not been in long enough to fly, his mother said.

She said she feels luckier than mothers whose sons and daughters are in the war zone. Adam's unit was called up, but the Air Force canceled the call when the fighting in Iraq ended, she said.

"I worry about the mothers whose sons were there," she said. "I know how I felt when Adam called to tell me that he was packing up to go."

Judy Conrad last saw Daniel in October when she went to Little Rock to visit him and his wife, Jamie, she said. Adam was home for Christmas in December.

She said she and Pat Wingert attend Otterbein United Brethren Church in Greencastle. "We see each other every Sunday and pray together for our sons," she said.

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