Military Moms Have Something to Say About 'Surge'

LAKE JACKSON, Texas, Jan. 10, 2007 — -- At the end of a dusty road in Brazoria County, Texas, about an hour south of Houston, is a long fence. The fence has the name of every U.S. soldier killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It doesn't have the elegant simplicity of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, but it is a heartbreaking reminder of what so many families have lost during the more than five years of fighting since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A remarkable number of young men and women from Brazoria County have volunteered to join the Armed Forces, and many of them are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their mothers and fathers have formed a support group, known as the Military Moms of Brazoria County, to help one another.

In the last two weeks, two families in the small town of Lake Jackson have buried sons killed in Iraq: Marine Lance Corp. Stephen Morris and Spec. Cody Ford, so Vicky McConnell, whose 20-year-old son Ryan Brown is about to be sent overseas, is painfully aware that some day officers in uniform could walk up her sidewalk and knock on her door, to tell her something has happened to him.

Ryan is in the 82nd Airborne, and leaves next week for his first tour of duty overseas in Afghanistan. She knows after that he could be sent to Iraq.

"I don't want him to go, but he volunteered, so he has a job to do," McConnell said. "I pray for him every day, and I want him to come back soon. I want them all to come back soon"

'We Got Slapped in the Face'

ABC News spoke with some of the moms in the Texas support group to get their reaction to Bush's new plan. When asked what she wants to hear from the president during his speech, McConnell said she just isn't sure if there is any solution for Iraq.

Her friend Pat Simpson has a son, Sgt. Cory Simpson, in the Marines in Iraq. She says he is proud to be a Marine but she worries. "I miss him, I pray. The only way you can get through the day with a son in Iraq is to pray, to pray that God has his arms wrapped around him and will keep him safe," Simpson said.

She is afraid Bush's call for extra troops means Cory won't be coming home in March as was planned. She believes that the U.S. troops in Iraq aren't being allowed to do their jobs, and that the government of Iraq needs to take more responsibility for the violence in the country, especially in light of Bush's plan to send more troops.

"I just know that something has to change, something has got to be done," Simpson said. "If he's going to send more troops, he needs to let them do their jobs, and quit tying their hands, the violence over there is killing our children."

Simpson said what she has seen over the past four years has taught her to be skeptical.

"I was naive to believe everything we were told. We got slapped in face. Most of what we were told were lies," she said. "We were not there for [the] reason we were supposed to be. It hurts to know men and women are dying for lies. When I talk to my son he's changed so much, and I'm afraid the happy young man that left won't be there when he comes home."

And those service members who are home, such as Mary Moreno's son Kenneth, await a possible recall to Iraq. She remembers how she felt when her son headed off for his first of two tours of duty as a Marine in Iraq.

"I became like a zombie listening to the coverage of the war and wondering how safe my son is, so I reached out to other moms and started this support group. We take care of each other, and we are determined to do everything we can to take care of our children in Iraq," Moreno said.

She doesn't think a surge in troops to Iraq will make any difference.

"My personal opinion is if it hasn't changed in the last four years, what makes us think it will change now to send in more troops?" she said. "I support my son, and the other troops. I just don't want to see many more children die."

"I am totally split. … They can send more over there, they can bring more home, but our guys started off with a job to do and they aren't finished," military mom Susie Patterson said. "They have got to finish it, but that is my opinion, what else can you do? Yes, I want my son home, I want him safe, but that's not going to happen until they tell them they can home."

Her son Blake, 19, is a Marine corporal and drives trucks and Humvees in Fallujah. Her fear for her son is so close to the surface it is tangible. She wears a yellow ribbon and always has a photo of Blake with her as he is constantly on her mind.

"He left June the 13th and he was supposed to come in February, but they are extending him," Patterson said.

For now, she debates the politics of the war with her friends but isn't sure if there is a solution to end the war. Tonight they all will be watching Bush's speech very carefully, because they are the ones with the most to lose, and the most to gain, when their children come home from war.

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