Local News

Deployed Soldier's Family Stays Busy To Stay Distracted

Posted April 25, 2003

— For some U.S. troops, the deployment is far from over.

That means more waiting for families left behind.

WRAL has been following one of those families from the very beginning. The Whites are sharing their story -- the ups and downs of separation.

This week, the focus was on having a little fun because it's spring break at Fort Bragg.

Angela White tried to keep her daughter, Ashley, busy during spring break.

Wednesday night, it was a sleepover. Thursday, it was a day in the park for 6-year-old Ashley and her friends.

Angela said that, if she doesn't keep Ashley entertained, things would get a little trying at home.

"She knows she can get away with a lot more when he's not there," Angela said of Ashley.

"He" is Ashley's stepfather, Gerald White. He's with the 82nd Airborne Division and has been gone 10 weeks.

When he recently called home, Ashley knew exactly what she wanted to ask her stepfather.

"Can you please come home?" she said she would ask him. "Ask his boss. Can he please come home?"

Angela said Ashley misses her stepfather terribly and that Gerald feels the same way. She said Gerald was really down when she talked to him last.

"He heard the baby cooing and laughing in the background, things she wasn't doing before he left," Angela said. "He broke down and said: 'I need to see my family at least for one day.'"

Hoss, as he's known to family, said he would be out of contact for two weeks. He was heading out on a new mission.

The Whites still have no idea where he is and what he's doing. That continues to be hard on all of them.

"When she sees bits and pieces on the news about what happened, she'll ask if he's a part of it," Angela said of Ashley. "I don't know how to tell her I don't know because I don't know myself."

This weekend, Angela and the kids will head to South Carolina this weekend to meet up with Gerald's family from Mississippi. Angela said that will be good therapy for all of them.

Friday was an especially hard day for the Whites to be apart. It marked Gerald's 25th birthday. His family hopes to celebrate a belated birthday with him soon.

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