'It's not over for us'

Anxious family members await word from relatives serving overseas

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For Debbie Dunaway, no news is good news when it comes to information about her son, Jordan Ferrell, while he serves in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The in-laws of Mark S. Curry Jr., a corporal in the Marines, thought their daughter and son-in-law were on their way to making the transition from military to civilian life after Curry's four years in the service were completed in October. The news Lori and David Dodge received was unexpected as Curry was called away from his civilian job, his wife, Vanessa, and his year-and-a-half-old son, Mark, and returned to military service.

Tim and Tarryn Jayne were used to hearing from their son, Talon, at least once a week during the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After all, the private first class in the Army is a network switching systems operator and has access to the information technology everyday. He even sent a photograph of himself on the first day of the war. Now it has been a couple of weeks since they've heard from him and each passing day they anticipate his next e-mail.

Information about loved ones in the armed forces for these three Craig families spans from feared to anticipated. Yet they share the common hope of one final contact: hearing when their family members will be coming home.

"The television isn't really covering it that much anymore," said Tim Jayne. "But as long as he's still over there, it's not over for us."

The last time the Jaynes heard from their son, he was sleeping in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces at night and setting up the central command for Baghdad in another palace during the day. Ever since Talon entered Iraq's capital city, communication was cut down from once or twice a week to almost nothing.

"There were no means for them to communicate in Baghdad," said Tarryn Jayne. "We suspect they'll have something set up in the next week or so. Maybe he'll call on Mother's Day."

There was no word if Tarryn heard from her son on Mother's Day but, as far as Dunaway was concerned, silence was the best news for a mother on Mother's Day. She had already received a call during the war but it wasn't what she wanted to hear. Ferrell was wounded when a hand grenade detonated on the roof of the truck he was riding in.

"The only time I've had any calls, it was about him being injured," Dunaway said. "I hope I don't hear from anybody again until he's home."

Ferrell, who graduated from MCHS in 2002, is a communication paratrooper. While "communication" is in his title, he doesn't have access to outside contact. The paratrooper is involved with special operations. He has now returned to active duty after recovering from his wounds. With his status as a special operations soldier, the opportunity to send information home is limited.

Mark Curry's family is the least limited as far as being able to get a hold of the corporal. He is still on-call at Fort Lajune in North Carolina.

"He was supposed to be a casualty replacement," said David Dodge, "but there weren't enough casualties for him to need to be a replacement."

The Dodges said they expect him to return to Colorado and his family soon but they aren't sure if it will be before his son's second birthday on May 20.

"It was a shock that he got called back in March," said Lori Dodge. "His former company was

already over there, so he just waited and is still waiting to know what to do."

Lori Dodge said the hardest thing for her daughter was the unexpected call back after four months

of her husband being out of the service.

"When he was serving and she lived on the base with him, she was used to him having his bags packed and ready to go at any time," she said. "But she wasn't prepared

for him to have to go once he was out."

Curry won't be the only one missing important dates.

Jayne's sister, Teneil, and wife, Katie (Coulter) Jayne, will be graduating from Moffat County High School May 24.

Jayne's wife finished her credits at MCHS in December, married Talon on the Dec. 21 and moved down to Fort Huachuca in Arizona shortly after. She has remained on the base, but is returning to walk in her graduation.

"She's a wonderful, strong girl," her mother-in-law said. "She has showed maturity beyond her age during this time."

Watching milestones go by without their sons will most likely be tough for all three families but they do have one thing to help -- the support of others in similar situations.

The Jaynes and Dunaway go to the same church and are aware of their common bond.

"I would talk to Debbie sometimes with news of the war because I knew she didn't watch much of it on television," said Tarryn Jayne. "I also called her to help when I heard she missed Jordan's call."

Their beliefs have been a source of strength throughout the war as well.

"It's all in God's hands," Dunaway said. "I just stay real busy and try not to think about things too much."

Tarryn Jayne has a similar faith in the job her son was doing.

"We just trust in the Lord," she said. "He's (Talon) just doing his job and God willing he be back home soon."

While President George W. Bush has declared an end to major military operations in Iraq, for military families the conflict has not come to an end.

"I don't want to see a military vehicle in my driveway unless Talon is driving it," said Tim Jayne. "That is when it is over for us."

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