Mom, daughter serve in different roles

December 23, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • U.S. Navy Lt. Com. Heather Kline, left, is retiring from military service while her mother, Barbara Eberly, serves in Iraq as a civilian.
Submitted photo

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. — It's on opposite ends of the earth that a Fayetteville mother and daughter find themselves undergoing major life changes in service to their country.

Heather (Eberly) Kline is retiring as a lieutenant commander from the U.S. Navy Dec. 31 in her new home of Alexandria, Va. Her mother, Barbara Eberly, has been in Iraq since August working in safety and environmental clean-up as a civilian.

"She had always wanted to join military service but watched my career from the sidelines," said Kline, who will turn 41 Sunday.

Kline graduated from Chambersburg Area Senior High School in 1988 and joined the Navy that summer. She had studied abroad, wanted to continue traveling and found herself captivated by her grandfather's stories of World War II.

She started her career on tugboats and ships in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, then entered the recruiting field and told people about her passion for service.

"Everyone is like, 'Did you recruit your mom?' Well, I did recruit my brother into the Navy Reserves. ... I think in subtle ways I did" affect my mother's decisions, Kline said.

"I always wanted to deploy and figured this could be a chance to put my civilian environmental safety experience to use. I wanted the opportunity to walk in a warfighter's shoes, and now I'm doing things most civilians only dream about," Eberly said in an e-mail.

Eberly, 58, previously worked at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pa., before taking a position with Defense Logistics Agency Distribution in New Cumberland, Pa. Eberly left for Camp Victory on the outskirts of Baghdad at the end of August for a year-long opportunity with the Defense Department's Civilian Expeditionary Workforce.

Eberly said her work supports the president's 2011 Responsible Drawdown of Forces.

"She wasn't sure how her family would react (to the news). ... My brother (Michael) and I couldn't be more proud of her," Kline said.

The family communicates through phone calls, e-mail, Skype and care packages. Eberly also gets time off every 120 days.

"They need her skills," Kline said. "We need the civilians. There are so many civilians over there, and sometimes they aren't remembered."

Kline, who spent four years at sea, advised her mother to do the work that needs to be done but remain cautious.

"I was glad to share some experiences with her, and now she's sharing major experiences with me. I'm so proud of her," Kline said.

"I've learned that age and gender won't stop a person from finishing a tough challenge like this one, but a lack of will can. ... I'm truly looking forward to (this) being one of the most awesome experiences of my life," Eberly said.

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