Families talk to Marines in Iraq

By Jessica Wheeler
Posted: Saturday, December 08, 2007 at 7:59 p.m.

EAST PEORIA -- Families of Peoria Marines got an early christmas present Saturday-- a chance to talk to and see their loved ones serving over seas.

One woman from Streator says her Christmas wishes have now come true.

"I'm a widow, he's my only son," said Linda Cooper, whose son is serving in Iraq.

Linda Cooper waits, in anticipation- to see her son for the first time since August.

"When you don't see them for a long length of time, all you want to do is see them," said Cooper.

Her son, Marine Staff Sergeant Anthony Cooper is a world away this holiday season.

"He's a demolition expert and a combat engineer," said Cooper.

But this isn't the first time he's been in Iraq for Christmas- its his third tour of duty in Iraq.

Linda gets through the days and weeks without her son- by surrounding herself with his memory.

"I have a prayer shall ministry- I make prayer shalls for the church I attend," said Cooper.

So, clad in her Marine support gear- this proud mother thinks of what she'll say to her son when she finally gets to talk to him.

"All of a sudden you're kind of struck dumb, because you don't know when the calls are going to come, and you pick up the phone and he's there," said Cooper.

Even with time to prepare, seeing his face for the first time in months brought a huge smile to hers.

Linda and her grandson got to visit with Staff Sergeant Cooper for a half hour Saturday, asking questions and telling jokes- she says she got just what she wanted for Christmas- A chance to see her son's face, and tell him just how much he means to her.

"I'm happy, if I don't get anything else, that's fine with me," said Cooper. "I'm proud of him, and I support him."

Staff Sergeant Cooper's tour in Iraq is expected to end in May.

The video conferences this weekend were made possible by the Freedom Calls Foundation.