Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the Dayton Daily News on March 20, 2003.
"I spend many hours these days thinking back to the times he was a little boy. When war was a game played between Ninja Turtles or GI Joes that ended when it was time for dinner. I could protect him, then, and keep the evil of the world at bay. Now the war is real, and he is protecting me.'
Becky Guth wrote those words after her 24-year-old son, Adam, a Marine Corps corporal, left for Kuwait on Feb. 14.
Since then, she and the rest of her family in the northern Montgomery County city of Union have had nothing but time to build nervous anticipation about the looming war.
When President Bush announced late Wednesday night that the early stages of "disarming Iraq" had begun, it still managed to catch her off guard.
`Even though I knew it was coming, it just really took me by surprise,' she said. `The first thing I did was cry and then say a prayer. I just pray for all of them,' she said, her voice filling with emotion.
Guth's husband, Tim, expressed relief that the early stages had begun.
`To me, the more they wait, the more dangerous it becomes,' he said after the president's four-minute speech. `We cannot let Saddam be given the chance to throw the first punch.'
The couple and their daughter Amanda, 20, watched the news late into the night as son, Zachary, 9, slept. A small blue star flag - which signals they have a child in the military - graces the front living room window of their home. A Marine Corps flag hangs outside the front door.
The Marine corporal, a 1997 Northmont High School graduate, is a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. His job entailed training other members of his unit, part of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, how and when to use protective gear and decontamination equipment.
His family wasn't surprised that he was deployed to the Persian Gulf, given the suspected arsenal of Saddam Hussein.
` Scary stuff, yet I have faith in my son, and the rest of our troops, who are willing to risk their lives so we may continue to live in a free nation,' his mother wrote. Guth's wife, Lisa, and their two children - Dylan, 3, and Baylee, 2 - have left North Carolina and are expected to arrive at his parents' home this weekend. Adam phoned her Wednesday afternoon to say he was packing his gear and getting ready to move.
It was another goodbye. The first had come weeks earlier when Lisa and the Union family had visited him before he left Camp Lejeune.
`We spent time talking, and laughing, and I took plenty of pictures of my 3 kids together,' his mother wrote , `because as much as I don't want to think about it, the truth is, I don't know what is going to happen .'
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