Military Wife Prepares to Send Three Sons, Husband to Afghanistan

Hoagland Moss FamilyCourtesy the Hoagland/Moss Family
Courtesy the Hoagland/Moss Family

Bonnie Hoagland has a lot to be proud of -- and even more to worry about.

Three of her four sons and her husband will soon deploy to war-torn Afghanistan while her fourth and oldest son recuperates at home from injuries he suffered during his last tour of duty.

"All I can do is stand back and be supportive and let them know that I'm there," Hoagland told

The South Carolina family has taken patriotism to a whole new level.

National Guard Staff Sgt. Chris Hoagland, 44, is a 23-year-veteran. He is currently at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin with step-sons and fellow guardsmen Spc. Justin Moss, 23, and Spc. Bradley Moss, 22. The three are expected to deploy to Afghanistan around the first of the year.

They are expecting to be joined in Afghanistan by youngest brother Army Pvt. Clayton Moss, 20, by March. Chris Hoagland, Justin and Bradley will deploy together and work in engineering and patrols. Clayton, who returned home from Iraq about four weeks ago, will be on combat duty.

"It's just a lot of tension, stress, just wondering day to day what's going to happen next," Bonnie Hoagland said.

Clayton, currently stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., told that he's ready to go. "We need to go over there and accomplish what we started," he said.

Clayton said he understands troops are needed in Afghanistan, but questioned the efforts in Iraq.

"I'm ready for Afghanistan. I don't see the need of going to Iraq right now," he said. "I didn't see the need of going into Iraq to begin with."

All off Bonnie Hoagland's boys except for Bradley have deployed previously. Her eldest, National Guard Spc. Chad Moss, 24, was due to have deployed again, but was released from this tour of duty as he continues his recovery from injuries sustained from three separate RPG hits on his vehicle in 2006 while in Afghanistan.

Chad was first hit by an RPG that careened into the turret he was manning, but did not explode. Less than a week later, his vehicle was attacked again. The blast blew shrapnel into his body and burned his face. Sent home on leave to recover, Chad was eventually sent back to the same valley, where his vehicle was hit for a third time.

He came home shortly after and still suffers from back problems severe enough to keep him on U.S. soil, at least for now.

"The third time," Bonnie Hoagland said. "I think that was enough."

The Family That Deploys Together ...

Now Chad will be a part of her support team, along with her 16-year-old daughter Rachel and the wives of Justin and Bradley.

She'll go back to watching the casualty reports on the evening news from her Chester home and wondering "Is that mine?"

A spokeswoman at the Pentagon told that there is no Department of Defense policy that prohibits an entire family from serving at the same time.

There is however, a World War II-era provision -- spotlighted in the 1998 movie "Saving Private Ryan" -- that provides an exemption to combat-related service for the sole surviving son or daughter of a family in which the mother, father or one or more of the other silbings had been killed while serving in the military.

Hoagland said that she knows she's not the only military wife and mother who worries about her family and always prays when she hears of soldiers who have been killed.

"It's just a fluke that I have so many," she said. "There's so many people out there doing what I'm doing."

The family will soon have one other member to cheer on its soldiers. Bradley's new wife Ashley Moss recently found out she is expecting the couple's first child in the spring.

"He'll be gone when she has the baby," Bonnie Hoagland said. "He's trying to take his leave right around the time she's delivering."

The boys' father Gene Moss, Bonnie Hoagland's first husband, credits Chris Hoagland for inspiring the boys into military service.

Gene Moss, who also has a 21-year-old step-son preparing to deploy in March, said he takes comfort knowing two of his sons, at least, will be together in Afghanistan.

"Anything could happen to them," he said. "You don't know what they're walking into."

South Carolina Mother Looks Foward to Family's Safe Return

The Moss boys were already involved with the Junior ROTC in high school when the Hoaglands were married in 2003 -- five days before the groom deployed to Afghanistan.

All four boys enlisted after they turned 18, Bonnie Hoagland said, except for Bradley who signed up at 17.

"It seemed like the right thing to do," Clayton said. "I'm pretty sure my step-dad had some influence."

The family's fifth child, however, may get some resistance if she decides to enter into the family trade.

Rachel has already shown some interest of following her brothers and step-father into the military when she's old enough. Bonnie Hoagland admitted she's already trying to dissuade her daughter.

"I don't know if I can give another one," she said. "I don't know if I can handle it.

Clayton said he's also doing his part to keep his little sister at home.

"I'd rather her stay here," he said, "go to college."

But for now, the family's focus is on it's Afghanistan-bound boys.

"I am very proud of them," Bonnie Hoagland said. "And I look foward to them getting home safely."