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A soldier's call home reassuring

May 06, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The much anticipated e-mail message Nancy Burral sent to friends, family and others at 5:10 a.m. Monday about her soldier daughter, Mary Burral, said it all: Mary called for the first time since March and is fine.

Mary Burral, 24, is a U.S. Army specialist serving with the 54th Engineer Battalion somewhere in the Middle East.

While her daughter did not say where she was stationed, she said she has been doing work that involves rebuilding roads and taking people to medical centers, Nancy Burral said.

Mary Burral graduated in 1996 from Boonsboro High School and decided in January 2001 to join the Army. When she was assigned to work in Germany a few weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, her mother began sending care packages to her battalion.

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Her daughter shares the contents of the packages with the rest of her battalion and the battalion supply clerk, Nancy Burral said.

When Mary Burral was sent to Kuwait in February, her mother kept sending the packages. A popular item was baby wipes, which soldiers use when they don't have access to showers.

Nancy Burral recently stopped sending the care packages after hearing there was a backlog of mail and packages for the troops but, at her daughter's request, will resume sending the items, Nancy Burral said.

Mary Burral told her mother she wanted to thank everyone who contributed food and money for the approximately 20 care packages containing about 1,300 items that have been sent.

Mary Burral gave her mother a revised list of items she and the others in the unit wanted and her mother went out later Monday and bought enough for three more packages, which she said she will send this week.

What the battalion members want the most right now is salty snacks, such as crackers and chips, and beverages other than water, such as fruit punch or tea, she said.

Prior to this year, the longest Nancy went without talking to her daughter was 2 1/2 weeks, Nancy Burral said.

Nancy Burral has said she thinks about her daughter from the moment she wakes up until she falls asleep at night, and sometimes dreams about her.

Her sleep was interrupted Monday at 4:40 a.m. when the telephone rang.

"I knew when the phone rang it was her. She sounds wonderful," she said.

"I thought I was going to cry when I heard her voice I was so excited," she said. But she waited until the 25-minute conversation ended before tearing up, she said.

"I feel like I am walking on air," she said later in the day.

Nancy Burral says she can't send care packages just for her daughter when she can picture the faces of other battalion members, whom she and her husband met previously.

After Mary urged her, in a letter in late March, to keep sending packages, Nancy Burral asked others to help her, mentioning the care packages to friends, relatives and others.

Near the cash register at Kipe's Upholstery Shop on Longmeadow Road, where she does bookkeeping and sewing work, she put up a sign asking customers to help the troops by donating money or products for care packages.

She said she suspects people donate because it is a way they can show support for the troops.

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