A mom's fight at home
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    Exclamation A mom's fight at home

    A mom's fight at home
    Published Monday, February 26, 2007 9:57:29 AM Central Time

    By Shannon Green

    sgreen@themonroetimes.com

    MONROE -- Denise Ford ignores requests to shut off her cell phone at the doctor's office and at movie theaters. When she leaves home, she forwards her calls. She drives back home if she forgets her phone.

    "You are paranoid about missing a call," Denise said.

    Denise's son Ben, 21, is in Iraq.

    Denise is no stranger to the military, having served in the Air Force for five years in the 1980s. But that doesn't stop her from worrying.

    Her son, Ben, a Marine lance corporal, has been near Haditha, Iraq since late last year, serving with the Second Battalion, Third Marines, Echo Company. It is his second deployment: Ben served in Afghanistan from January to June last year. Ford grew up in Green County.

    The days, weeks, months of ceaseless worry, spiking when the words "Marine casualties" reverberate over the news media, take their toll on those who remain behind at home.

    "You're on edge all the time," Denise said.

    She listens constantly for news of casualties in Iraq. "It's either 'soldier' or it's a 'marine,'" when the reports come."

    When the media reports a marine's death from north of Baghdad, Denise starts to watch out her front window.

    "Then it's the waiting game Š is someone going to pull into my driveway?"

    Denise's anxiety is understandable. During one particularly bad two-week period, six marines from Ben's battalion were killed.

    "They've had 22 (killed) out of their unit since they've been there," Denise said quietly.

    During the worst of the fighting in Haditha, Ben's battalion was suffering weekly casualties.

    Ben, whether out of concern for his mother, or simply from the macho characteristic of down-playing traumatic events, has mastered the art of breaking news over the phone slowly.

    The call itself is risky. To get reception, the soldiers need to be on top of a building, a vulnerable place to be in a war-torn area, so Ben's call home on October 13 caught Denise by surprise.

    "He had called me in the morning, which was unusual," Denise said.

    "I'll probably be able to call you more in next few days," Ben told her.

    "Why?" Denise asked.

    "I'm on light duty."

    "Why?" Denise asked again.

    "I got hit on the Kevlar," Ben stated, matter-of-factly.

    Kevlar, a bullet-resistant fabric, is used by the soldiers as lightweight body armor. It is typically used in jackets and helmets.

    "Where?" Denise asked, alarmed.

    Ben was hit on his helmet above his right eye while on patrol. The impact of the sniper's bullet had knocked him out.

    "After he came to, he got up and managed to come back to the camp," Denise said later. "He had a concussion and a knot on his head." Ben's helmet had saved him from what could have been a fatal injury.

    "He was very lucky," Denise added quietly.

    Ben had waited a few days before calling home to break the news to her.

    Because of the delay, and because she was talking to him and he was obviously all right, Denise did not fall apart.

    "I knew he was OK," Denise said. "(But) I was like, 'Oh my God.'"

    The luck Ben had had in October was still with him in November.

    After recovering from his near-miss, he had resumed duties with his unit.

    Denise heard from him again during the first week in November.

    "He told me, 'Yeah, could you get hold of my bank and have them send me a new bank card?'" Denise said.

    "Yeah," she told him.

    "Oh yeah and could you see if you can get my social security card replaced?" Ben asked her.

    Denise sighed.

    "Did you lose your wallet?" she asked.

    "No, it's ashes."

    Ben's voice was again very matter-of-fact.

    "Where was your wallet when it was ashes?" Denise asked him.

    "In my gear pack."

    "Where was your gear pack?" Denise asked, in growing alarm.

    Ben was on patrol in a vehicle with his unit when an I.E.D. hit the rear of the vehicle, where the soldiers' gear was stored.

    "The only thing he could think of when they were hit was getting all the guys out of the vehicle," Denise said.

    Ben has mastered the skill of breaking difficult news to his mother, a skill his mother has learned to appreciate, "It's just a casual conversation," Denise said with a laugh.

    It can be frustrating at times. She suspects that he does not tell her everything.

    "I don't think people really realize how hard it is to have kids over there," Denise said. "It's still a huge worry for the parents. Even though you're really proud of them and what they're doing, it still comes down to any minute they could be killed or maimed."

    For mothers like Denise, the worry can become overwhelming -- not long after Ben left for Iraq, things started happening.

    Denise, having brought up five children, is conditioned as all mothers are, to respond to the quiet call in the night

    "Mom?"

    The voice she heard was Ben's -- but he was half a world away.

    Then, physically, she started hurting.

    "My head was numb, I was really dizzy. I thought 'I have a brain tumor Š what's wrong with me?'" Denise was asking herself.

    A battery of tests, including an MRI, showed nothing. Her doctor was mystified.

    "The doctor said 'Let's just try this Š'"

    Anti-anxiety medications take time to work.

    "After about the third week, I noticed a big difference," Denise said.

    Her symptoms disappeared after six weeks on the medication.

    "It was all stress," Denise said. "It's hard on the guys that are there, but it's also hard on the families. Depression or anxiety can cause physical symptoms, make you physically sick."

    Without her anti-anxiety medication, Denise does not think she could make it through.

    "I'm not advocating drugs, but sometimes it helps you get through (it)," she said. "It's especially difficult for these moms that have gone through these (multiple deployments). It doesn't get easier."

    The phone has been quiet lately, and her driveway remains free of military vehicles.

    "As a marine mom, no news is good news," Denise said.

    There are signs that soon Ben will be returning home - mail to his unit will no longer be sent to them, but instead to their base in Hawaii.

    Denise fully expects to hear Ben's infectious laugh soon, hoping that Ben's character and the resiliency of youth will help him adjust to a calmer life.

    "His brother Shawn says 'He's a Ford, he'll come back fine,'" Denise said. "He's too ornery not to come back."

    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  2. #2
    Thanks, Ellie, for this brave mom's story. I'm so proud to be the mom of an infantry Marine, and these moms who have been there, done that make me even prouder. They inspire me and strengthen me. I pray not only for their sons and daughters who are over there, but for them as well.

    Always faithful,

    Lynne
    PMM, PFC Jesse, Camp Lejeune


  3. #3
    Marine Free Member gwladgarwr's Avatar
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    Post Why do journalists insist on calling a Marine "a soldier"?

    Quote Originally Posted by thedrifter
    A mom's fight at home
    Published Monday, February 26, 2007 9:57:29 AM Central Time

    By Shannon Green

    sgreen@themonroetimes.com

    MONROE -- Denise Ford ignores requests to shut off her cell phone at the doctor's office and at movie theaters. When she leaves home, she forwards her calls. She drives back home if she forgets her phone.

    "You are paranoid about missing a call," Denise said.

    Her son, Ben, a Marine Lance Corporal, has been near Haditha, Iraq since late last year, serving with Echo Co, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines. It is his second deployment: Ben served in Afghanistan from January to June last year. Ford grew up in Green County.

    The days, weeks, months of ceaseless worry, spiking when the words "Marine casualties" reverberate over the news media, take their toll on those who remain behind at home.


    She listens constantly for news of casualties in Iraq. "It's either 'soldier' or it's a 'marine,'" when the reports come."

    Denise's anxiety is understandable. During one particularly bad two-week period, six Marines from Ben's battalion were killed.

    "They've had 22 (killed) out of their unit since they've been there," Denise said quietly.

    During the worst of the fighting in Haditha, Ben's battalion was suffering weekly casualties.

    The call itself is risky. To get reception, the soldiers need to be on top of a building, a vulnerable place to be in a war-torn area, so Ben's call home on October 13 caught Denise by surprise.

    Kevlar, a bullet-resistant fabric, is used by the soldiers Marines as lightweight body armor. It is typically used in jackets and helmets.



    Ben was on patrol in a vehicle with his unit when an I.E.D. hit the rear of the vehicle, where the soldiers' Marines' gear was stored.

    "As a Marine mom, no news is good news," Denise said."
    I can understand Mom and Dad stressing out like that; a good story overall.

    However, this story is also a great opportunity to educate and inform our civilian and journalistic brethren (and sisters) on the correct and appropriate use of terminology and spelling convention when pertaining to military concepts and ideas, particularly to those of the Marine Corps.

    I have emailed a letter to the writer of this story with a few helpful hints:

    Ms. Green:

    Your story "A Mom's Fight At Home" in the February 26th edition of the Monroe Times is highly commendable.

    For future reference, however, and for your own edification, please allow a Marine to point out the following errors in your story and their corresponding corrections:

    Ben was on patrol in a vehicle with his unit when an I.E.D. hit the rear of the vehicle, where the soldiers' gear was stored.
    The call itself is risky. To get reception, the soldiers need to be on top of a building, a vulnerable place to be in a war-torn area, so Ben's call home on October 13 caught Denise by surprise.

    A Marine is not a soldier, and a soldier is not a Marine. The two professions are not interchangeable. Mrs. Ford's son is a Marine - not a soldier. Nor are the other Marines in his unit 'soldiers'. Anyone carrying a weapon and wearing combat gear is not automatically a soldier; the term 'soldier' is not the default term for all types of military 'combattant'. Please endeavor to make this distinction.

    She listens constantly for news of casualties in Iraq. "It's either 'soldier' or it's a 'marine,'" when the reports come."

    Since you have already drawn a distinction between 'soldier' and 'Marine' in the same sentence, I am confident that you already know the difference between the two.

    [B]Her son, Ben, a Marine lance corporal, has been near Haditha, Iraq since late last year

    The Marine is a Lance Corporal - not 'lance corporal'. This is a rank and a title, capitalized.

    Denise's anxiety is understandable. During one particularly bad two-week period, six marines from Ben's battalion were killed.

    She listens constantly for news of casualties in Iraq. "It's either 'soldier' or it's a 'marine,'" when the reports come."


    'Marine' (singular) and 'Marines' (plural, as in 'a group of Marines') are both ALWAYS capitalized. Again, 'Marine' is a title and proper noun, not a job description. A Marine is NEVER to be referred to as a lower-case 'marine', as if the word were an adjective describing ocean phenomena.

    The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, The AP Stylebook, and the Chicago Manual of Style are all not always in agreement and not always correct since they reflect a lack of understanding of military service and military life, thus, you will encounter incorrect spelling, inappropriate (lack of) capitalization, and misuse of terminology (i.e., 'soldier' vs. 'Marine').

    Please keep these spelling and terminological conventions in mind. Thank you.

    Semper Fidelis,

    F.A. Race, Sergeant
    United States Marine Corps


    Feel free to copy and distribute.

    Sgt gw


  4. #4
    Marine Free Member gwladgarwr's Avatar
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    Post ...and the writer's response

    Thank you for reading the story and taking the time to email a response.

    You are correct in the different [sic] between Marine and soldier (No duh; speaking from experience.) Thank you for pointing that out to me. The AP stylebook does make both distinctions and is accurate (then why don't YOU make that distinction if read their damned stylebook, ya dumb c***?). I do not remember if I had capitalized them or the editor made the changes. The stories go through several editorial sequences before publication.

    In the matter of rank, it is regarded as a title, like Governor. In AP style, when you refer to a title that is not before a name, generally it is not capitalized. "Governor Doyle" becomes "the governor" in later references.

    The rank lance corporal is considered a title for our purposes, and requires lower case when speaking of it in general ("a Marine lance corporal") as in that instance (with that logic, you ignorant slut, "President of the United States" should be "a president of the united states". However, if I had said Lance Corporal Ben Ford (as I did in an earlier version of the story) it would have been capitalized. I would write it the same way if I said "Ben Ford, the Wisconsin governor...."

    That is how it is listed in our AP stylebook. (since you fail to comprehend subtlety and have failed to read the end of my letter, ya dumb b****, implying that THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER SERVED IN THE MILITARY AND THOSE WHO SLAVISHLY CONSULT STUPID JOURNALISTIC STYLEBOOKS COMPILED BY THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER SERVED IN THE MILITARY WHO CITE MILITARY JARGON WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT THE F*** THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT STILL DON'T KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY CITE OR REFER TO A MARINE.

    Thank you once again, S Green

    OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. I sent a cleaner version of the stuff above back to her. The stupid c*** - she keeps saying "my AP stylebook says so".

    Sgt gw


  5. #5
    Marine Family Free Member
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    I work as an audio tech in broadcast news, and I'm forever correcting reporters and producers who use "soldier" when they are taking about a Marine. All we can do is keep correcting them, writing letters, writing email, and hope that it sinks in.


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