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thedrifter
01-17-06, 07:31 AM
Troops' families to support military
By WILLIAM PETROSKI
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
January 17, 2006

Families of fallen soldiers and Marines, Iraq war veterans and others said Monday they will launch a statewide effort to show support for American military forces overseas.

State Sen. Chuck Larson of Cedar Rapids, founder of Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission, was joined by about 25 people, most of them relatives of service members who have died in Iraq.

Iraqi military forces who are behind a democratic government have gradually assumed control from American troops, and the Iraqi people are showing their belief with strong participation in recent elections, said Larson, an Army Reserve officer who returned in February from a year in Iraq.

"The plan is working," said Larson, a Republican. "We are achieving success."

Karen Fisher's husband, Iowa Army National Guard Sgt. Paul Fisher, was killed in November 2003 when the helicopter he was aboard was shot down in Iraq. The Cedar Rapids woman said she wants to allow the American military to finish its job and establish democracy. As a war widow, she is considered a member of a "Gold Star" family.

Americans will send a dangerous message if they allow terrorists to believe "that if they kill enough people, we'll just walk away,'" Fisher said.

David Elwell of Des Moines, an Army Reserve officer who served in Iraq, is the Iowa chairman of the organization, which was founded as a national group last year. Gold Star families in 35 states participate in the group.

News conferences are planned this week in St. Paul, Minn., and Helena, Mont.

M.E. Ward, a Council Bluffs woman whose son, Marine Sgt. Thomas Houser, was killed in January 2005 in Iraq, said he died serving God, his country and his family. She has another son, Marine Staff Sgt. Joe Houser, who is now in Iraq.

Ward said her dead son's fellow Marines have told her "they would go back in a minute to fight for the mission of freedom."

Another Gold Star mother, Diane Ibbotson of Albion, Ill., lost her son, Army Cpl. Forest Jostes, in April 2004. He had been in Iraq only a week. Ibbotson said she was proud to speak on behalf of her son in support of American troops in Iraq.

"We who are Gold Star families are forever bound together by that uniformed messenger" who brought the news of their family member's death, Ibbotson said. "We have intimate stories of sacrifice and tears."

Ellie