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News brings hope to residents who have loved ones in military

December 15, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Plowing snow Sunday morning never felt so good for City of Hagerstown driver Frank Nuice, who found out in the wake of his early-morning shift that Saddam Hussein was captured and that his stepson finally might be safe.

His wife, Myra Nuice, said her husband called her early Sunday to share the news, saying that the Saturday night capture of the longtime Iraqi dictator had been the talk on the streets. Frank Nuice couldn't have been happier.

But Myra Nuice, whose son, U.S. Army Spc. Patrick A. Meyers, is serving in Iraq, said she's not sure how she feels.

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"I'm hoping that his capture will maybe help things to settle down over there, but I'm also concerned it might cause more turmoil," she said.

Saddam, who ruled Iraq for 23 years, was captured Saturday night in Adwar, a village 10 miles from Tikrit, U.S. officials reported.

His capture is small compared to the number of lives lost, but it's still good news, said retired U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Glen Prorock.

"It's a good reason to substantiate the loss," he said. "We've got him, but we lost a lot of troops, not to mention civilians, needlessly."

His son, Mark V. Prorock, has returned from serving as a technical sergeant in Afghanistan and now is based with the Maryland Air National Guard in Baltimore.

He said there's always the chance that his son might be deployed again to the Middle East, but added that Mark Prorock considers it his duty.

"Those that are over there need all the support they can get at home," he said. "The secret to that is to always give them good news."

For Paul Jordan, 35, of Hagerstown, this news is not good.

His niece, U.S. Army Spc. Tasha M. Vinzant, is serving in Kuwait and he worries that someone will try to take Saddam's spot.

"It's like a drug dealer on the corner - you take one off and another one takes his place," he said.

John Sterling is more hopeful.

His son, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Timothy L. Sterling, is in Afghanistan.

"I think it's going to help out in a lot of ways," he said. "I'm glad it's over with."

Vera McAllister's son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Frank McAllister Jr., is in Kuwait guarding transportation towers. She said he's expected to come home next month for a break and hopes that Saddam's capture will help bring him home for good.

Frank McAllister served during the Gulf War.

"I'm hoping it will settle things down a little bit," Vera McAllister said.

McAllister, of Hagerstown, said she's happy for the Iraqi people.

The news is bittersweet for Alice Baker.

Baker, 54, of Mercersburg, Pa., said her son returned from the Middle East in July and has since been stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Her 28-year-old son, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jason Baker, might have to go back to the Middle East in January, she said.

"I don't want him to go," she said. "I didn't raise my son to go over there and get killed. It was hell when he was over there."

Prorock, who retired three years ago from a more than 40-year military career, said the heartache associated with war never fades.

"Moms are going to be moms and the bad guys don't go away," he said.

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