Local News

Family Life Has Its Ups And Downs During Deployment

Posted February 21, 2003 4:50 a.m. EST

— With thousands of service members in our area deployed, many families left at home have months of challenge ahead.

WRAL begins a special look at the ups and downs of deployment on these families.

It is the day before Valentine's Day and Angela White has a broken heart.

"It's going to be hard with the kids alone," she said.

Her husband, Spc. Gerald White, is among 4,000 82nd Airborne soldiers who deployed to Kuwait last weekend for a possible war with Iraq.

The Whites have been married three years. This is their first experience with a major deployment.

White leaves behind his wife and two daughters -- 6-year-old Ashley and 4-month-old Savannah.

"I hope she still knows who her daddy is -- not hearing my voice for a while and not being able to touch me," White said before being deployed. It will be hard for a little girl to see a big man come back into the house."

White asks his family to leave before he boards the plane. He knows that will be hard enough.

Angela White said so far, walking into an empty house has been the most difficult thing for her. Seven days have passed and the 24-year-old is still working on a new routine as a single mom.

Angela White said she has already noticed a big change in Ashley's behavior.

"I miss playing with him, I miss playing with his face," Ashley said.

She has noticed a change in her own behavior, too. Angela said she cannot help but wait by the phone, and then is disappointed when her husband is not on the other line.

"I've missed two of his calls by being at work. I came home and said 'Maybe he'll call back,' and it never rings," she said.

Angela White said the days go by fast because she is so busy with the children. During the down time, she does have her weak moments.

"If I'm sitting here and a sad song comes on the radio, I get all mushy. I've been trying to keep my head up for the girls," she said.

One week is gone. There are at least 25 more to go. WRAL will have updates on the White family in the coming weeks.