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Published: Thursday, 1/9/2003

Uncertainty, fear tear at families

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lance Cpl. Brad Compton and his wife, Sarah, embrace before she leaves his side to attend a meeting on insurance with other spouses. He returned home three weeks ago after serving six months in South America. Lance Cpl. Brad Compton and his wife, Sarah, embrace before she leaves his side to attend a meeting on insurance with other spouses. He returned home three weeks ago after serving six months in South America.
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Family members in blue jeans stood beside uniformed men yesterday at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center as they prepared to say farewell to their sons, fathers, and new husbands.

Twenty Marine Reservists and three members of the Navy Reserve will be shipping out later this week. Loved ones are not allowed to know their destination until they arrive there.

Jessica Harrington stroked her husband's hand at the Reserve Center in Perrysburg Township as they discussed his upcoming departure.

“He might not be here for our first baby to be born,” she said.

Mrs. Harrington, 23, is five months' pregnant. Her husband, 20-year-old Pfc. James Harrington, joined the Reserves last year. He wanted to defend the country after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The Perrysburg couple had planned to get married later this year but decided to wed last month because they worried he would be called to serve.

The deployment also sped up the marriage of Sarah and Lance Cpl. Brad Compton, who had a ceremony Tuesday at their home in Ypsilanti, Mich.

One-year-old Krista Hall peeks into the orderly room for her father, Keith Hall, at the Navy and Marine Reserve Center. One-year-old Krista Hall peeks into the orderly room for her father, Keith Hall, at the Navy and Marine Reserve Center.
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Corporal Compton has been home for three weeks after serving six months in South America.

“We thought he was home for good, or for longer at least,” Mrs. Compton said.

The news of Corporal Compton's call-up came Friday, the day after he registered for classes at Washtenaw Community College. He even bought a truck because he hoped he would be off active duty.

“It's just a big jumble of emotion now,” he said.

The 23 area men are part of a heavy machine gun platoon. They fire machine guns to provide cover for troops in combat.

The Reservists will participate in Operation Enduring Freedom, the overseas battle against terrorism. They are not sure how long they will be gone, but family members have been told it could be up to a year.

Dolly Prater, 19, said she is worried her husband, Lance Cpl. Matt Prater, might not come home at all.

“I'm scared,” she said. “We have a little baby together. I'm afraid the baby's going to forget him.”

Corporal Prater's father, David, watched over the couple's 8-month-old son yesterday at the Reserve Center while the men went to informational meetings and did equipment checks.

He said Mrs. Prater of Findlay got a video recorder for Christmas. The family plans to record many of the baby's antics so Corporal Prater can watch some of the months he missed.

“Hopefully, that will help fill the void,” David Prater said. “We've cried and cried buckets.”

Cpl. Keith Hall of Maumee is also leaving behind a small child. His 1-year-old daughter, Krista, was toddling around yesterday, happily gripping her plastic bag full of cereal.

His wife, Diana, was in a more somber mood. “It's pretty upsetting. I'm going to miss him a lot,” she said.

Though they're leaving behind concerned family members, many of the men said they feel ready for duty.

“I've been training for four years for this job,” Corporal Compton said. “It's just part of my life.”



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