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Local soldiers' families are hopeful about shorter conflict

 


Family members of local soldiers reacted to the news of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's capture by U.S. troops with a mixture of optimism and uneasiness.

For many, the capture raises the possibility that the soldiers will be able to serve their terms with the military in the United States, not on the sands of Iraq.

Jody Williams, 24, said her husband, Dwayne Williams, called her Sunday morning from basic training in Fort Sill, Okla., with the news.

"He called me around 7:30 in the morning. He told me, 'Honey, did you hear that Saddam got captured?'" Williams said. She said she already knew.

For Dwayne Williams, that may mean less of a chance of having to serve in Iraq, and more of a chance to see his child and two stepchildren.

"He's hoping it'll slim the chances of him going there, and hopefully he can stay home with his kids," Jody Williams said. She said her husband told her there were lines of soldiers outside the pay phones at Fort Sill waiting to call family members with the news.

Winona LaMere of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation hopes the capture of Saddam may mean her son will not have to go back to sea.

LaMere's son, Darrell Sun Child Jr., 21, returned from the USS Carl Vinson in October and is now in Alabama, she said. She said she talked to her son on Sunday.

"I'm hoping this will end everything going on over there," she said. Her son's four-year term will end in June and he has decided not to re-enlist, but he will still be on call for two years after his term is up.

One family member said he thinks the capture of Saddam could make things worse for American troops.

Mike Badgley Sr. said his son, Michael Badgley Jr., 30, left home Saturday to go back to Iraq after about two weeks of leave, so he has not been able to talk to him since Saddam was captured.

He said the United States needed to capture Saddam so the Iraqi people would know there wasn't any chance of him coming back in power. But he said it doesn't necessarily mean things in Iraq will be safer for U.S. troops.

"If anything, it might even be worse," Badgley said. "They're going to try to get him back in some way or another - capture a bunch of our people and try to exchange him - something that we're not going to negotiate. It could still be as bad or worse as it was." He said his son's tour of duty is scheduled to be over in April.

John Meyers of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation said he is hopeful, but not sure, the capture will make a difference. "I'm glad that he's caught, but that doesn't mean he still won't raise any more ruckus while he's in confinement," said Meyers, whose son Steve Parker is in the U.S. Navy and served in the Iraqi theater this year.

Meyers said Parker is back in the United States now. His ship returned from the conflict, docking in Bremerton, Wash., in September.

Saddam's capture might mean Parker doesn't have to return to Iraq, Meyers said. The capture is raising his hopes, and the hopes of others at Rocky Boy, he added.

"There's a lot of kids from Rocky Boy over there yet in different branches of the service," he said.

Sandy Belcourt's son Jason Norivio, a member of the Navy, also returned home from the conflict earlier this year.

Belcourt said she is glad that Saddam was captured, but there are other men, like Osama bin Laden, still to be found.

"I'm glad, you know, but there's still one out there," she said. "I don't know if we're out of danger. It's hard to say."

Fran Morsette of Rocky Boy offered brief words of praise for the troops who captured Hussein.

"My opinion is that I'm glad that they caught him," she said.

Morsette has two stepchildren who serve in the armed forces. Her stepdaughter, Benita Morsette, is a sailor on the USS Enterprise, while her stepson, Joe Morsette, serves in the Air Force and is stationed in North Dakota.

Janine Leeds of Havre said her son Torger Hauge is still in Germany because Turkey did not allow his unit, part of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, to go into Iraq through Turkey. She said he will be going to Iraq eventually.

The rest of the 4th Infantry went into Iraq through Kuwait, she said, and they were the ones who eventually captured Saddam.

"What he said, besides being excited, is that it's poetic justice that the 4th Infantry got him, because they were supposed to be the first ones into Northern Iraq and then didn't get in until, you know, weeks later," said she in a voicemail left in response to a call from a reporter.

Leeds said her son will be home at Christmas.

Havre Daily News reporters Tim Leeds and Patrick Winderl contributed to this story.

 

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