Special forces' need for secrecy keeps loved ones wondering about their whereabouts and safetyWith the constant, "Cops"-like coverage of America's new war, the wives of two Green Beret special forces soldiers in the Gulf say their lives have taken a ride on an emotional roller coaster.
Feelings of frustration mix with pride, they say, as they're left dealing with their families and domestic duties as their husbands take on the responsibilities of warfare. Their stories are similar to the thousands across the nation dealing with the absences of a father or mother called up for overseas service.
"It's been very difficult emotionally," said Sheryl Holcom, wondering just what her husband, Master Sgt. Floyd Holcom, is doing with his team of Green Beret soldiers in Iraq and when he may come home.
Floyd HolcomShe said their two young children have been surprisingly strong in providing emotional support for each other and her since her husband was deployed in July.
"If I'm upset, they'll notice it right away," she said. "It's interesting to see how much they've changed, how they've grown up."
She said she received a phone call from Holcom last weekend saying he was fine, but with little other information.
Sheryl Holcom is the leader his team's family support group. She is part of a chain of people leading to the company's commanding officer providing information on the team's activities and support for the wives.
Other wives, she said, are essentially going through the same thing she is. "You're fine one day and tearful the next," she said.
In addition to being a pipeline of information, Sheryl Holcom said the group exists to "see what the needs are of families and offer emotional and financial support."
The two married in 1995, and Sheryl Holcom said she always knew she'd be in this position.
"Throughout the years, he's trained me to handle something like this," she said.
Carol Walker knows what Sheryl Holcom is going through, as she is married to a Green Beret in the same unit, although the two men are in different teams. Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Greg Walker, is an Astoria Police Officer.
Because of the special forces' need for secrecy, he couldn't say much about where he was in the region or what he was doing, when contacted by e-mail.
"I am presently detached from my special operations unit/team and assigned to a staff detachment tasked to provide advisory assistance and insight on special operations to U.S. war fighting command," he wrote. "I am extremely proud to be serving my country and the, soon to be liberated, people of Iraq in the capacity I presently am afforded."
Greg WalkerHe said morale in his area is high.
"The spirit and morale of the troops I've been privileged to work alongside, whether U.S. or coalition, is heartfelt and unbreakable and it is unshakable," he said. "This is very much due to the rightness of our cause and the clear, unwavering support of the folks back home."
Carol Walker said she has been trying to "keep really busy and try not to watch too much of the news." She said their four sons have helped her handle the stress of having Sgt. Walker leave.
"The challenges we face here on the home front don't come close to those challenges our forces are facing on a daily basis over there," she said. "My thoughts and prayers go out to all."
Walker's career in the Army has lasted 24 years and included other foreign deployments, such as to El Salvador.
Yet Carol Walker said these days she's glad e-mail has given her a daily source of communication with her husband that makes his service abroad a little easier.
News coverage may be disturbing, especially when U.S. soldiers are capture or killed, but Sheryl Holcom said as a Green Beret her husband has received some of the best training the military provides and therefore is prepared for almost anything.
Both Sheryl Holcom and Carol Walker said they may want their husbands back home, but they say they are both extremely proud of what they are doing and confident the men will be successful.
And from thousands of miles a way, near where the fighting is taking place, the feeling is reciprocated.
"There is another category of hero, and they are the families," wrote Greg Walker. "They provide the bedrock of support, stability and love so necessary of us to do our jobs. ... They're the ones who help us keep hope alive during the darkest of times and experiences."