Family members of soldiers wait with hope

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Most families of active American servicemen and servicewomen do not know where their family members are located right now, but for some Oak Creek residents, that does not get them down.

Operation Iraqi Freedom isn't the first war these residents have seen family members fight in.

Eileen O'Neal has two grandsons currently in the military, and her father and brother fought in World War II. Her other brother fought in Korea.

Former Oak Creek mayor and trustee Violet Shaffer has a great nephew stationed in the Persian Gulf -- Kuwait, the last time she heard -- but the walls of her apartment are adorned with several portraits of family members who have served in the armed forces over the years.

Janie Romick's nephew was called from the Air Force Reserves to the Persian Gulf, but most of her family has served before.

One of O'Neal's grandsons, Matthew Quimby, 23, remains in the United States in the Marine Reserves, training to be a firefighter in Michigan. The other, Daniel Quimby, 25, has already been called to active duty in the Air Force.

O'Neal said her older grandson was on notice to go to Korea, but doesn't know if plans changed.

"I have a concern not knowing where he is," O'Neal said. "But, I think he's serving because he wants to. I would like to know the area he is in. That would be good enough for me."

Shaffer's nephew, Jericho Rogers, 22, is a fourth-year Marine. He was scheduled to be discharged a few months ago, but had his enlistment extended. He is probably in Iraq by now, but she does not know for sure.

"I feel like he's in God's hands," she said. "He's where God wants him at the moment."

Jack and Janie Romick's nephew, Lt. Col. Trulan Eyre, is a pilot for Delta Airlines, a father of three, and a member of the Colorado National Guard. He was called to active duty recently and is now in the Persian Gulf, serving as an operations officer for the 120th tactical F16 Fighter squadron. Eyre spends a lot of time in Oak Creek during summers hunting with cousins Lance, Brent and Jace Romick.

They also do not know the exact location of their nephew. However, Janie Romick said she is confident in her nephew since he is a 1979 graduate of the Air Force Academy.

"I think he's capable of doing what he has to do," Romick said. "I'm so proud of him, of course. I worry and I pray for him every day, but he told me the night before he left that it was something that had to be done."

Though their family members could be in jeopardy, these Oak Creek residents feel it is necessary to support the efforts of the government.

"I feel that Saddam Hussein is a cancer who needs to be eliminated," Shaffer said. "I feel that we will free the people of Iraq. It may cost some lives, but we will get the job done."

O'Neal said she was unsure that invading Iraq was the right thing to do.

"This is the first war where we have been the aggressor, so it's strange," O'Neal said. "But you have to put your personal feelings aside and support what's going on there."


-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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