Military reservists leave jobs, say goodbye to families

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2001

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A week ago, Terri Hall and her husband were planning their island honeymoon. Now the newlyweds are preparing for a separation; neither knows for how long.

Randy Hall, a pilot, was among a small number of military reservists who left an Air National Guard wing in Harrisburg on Wednesday for an undisclosed location in the Middle East, a unit spokesman said.

''It's kind of scary when you're talking about a will just a few days after getting married,'' said Terri Hall, a medic with the same unit.

The contingent was the first to be deployed from Pennsylvania since President Bush authorized the Pentagon to call up as many as 50,000 reservists for the campaign against terrorism, officials said.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon called up an additional 600 reservists. Those tapped included Seabees and other Naval reservists as well as security forces with an Air Force Special Operations unit in Florida. The latest request brought to about 15,600 the number called to active duty, the Pentagon said.

''It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when,'' said Jack Gordon, a spokesman for the suburban Pittsburgh-based 99th Army Reserve Command. ''People are preparing in every way, making sure their personal lives are in order.''

In Florida, Gary Boothby was among 170 Navy reservists, primarily military police, activated to bolster security within the United States. He took leave as a sheriff's deputy in Gainesville and said goodbye to his wife, 6-month-old daughter and 9-year-old son.

''I'm helping coach his football team,'' Boothby said. ''That's the hard part about it, is leaving that and just basically having to change your way of life as you knew it.''

During the past week, Capt. Bill Ramsey, an attorney at Fort Bragg, N.C., said he has helped prepare some 15 wills and 40 power-of-attorney forms each day.

''This is where some of the guys first realize the importance of all this,'' said Sgt. Cory Weeks, a paralegal helping Ramsey. ''They have to think about their families and the possibility that they may not make it back home.''

More than 2,000 Marines have already been called from Camp Lejeune, and officials at North Carolina's other military installations are awaiting similar calls.

Hall, the Pennsylvania reservist, said there's a good chance she will also be summoned to duty, but because of military policy she and her husband won't be stationed together.

She said tears were shed at her wedding -- but not for the usual reasons.

''There were lots of tears,'' she said, '''cause we all knew what was next.''

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On the Net:

Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: http://www.dmva.state.pa.us

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