Local News

Families Of Deployed Soldiers Hope For Best, Fear Worst

Posted November 7, 2003 4:56 a.m. EST

— Every time word gets out that a soldier has been killed or wounded in Iraq, thousands of Fort Bragg families get a pang of fear. The post has already lost 21 Airborne and two Special Operations soldiers. The potential news is something many families deal with as best they can.

Moore County residents Betty and J.C. Dunlap said they cannot wait to sit alongside their grandson, Pfc. Joshua Dunlap.

"My son has prepared me for him. He said, 'Mom, you will not find Josh looking like Josh, and he will not talk to you,' but I don't want him to talk, just so I can see and let him know I'm there," Betty said.

The 23-year-old is in critical condition after he and 26 other soldiers were injured when their helicopter was shot down in Iraq.

"I'm just thankful he was alive, but with his injuries, I didn't know if he would be. If he lived, it would be a long recuperation," J.C. said.

Some people consider Dunlap one of the lucky ones. Earlier in the week, Sonia Rivera's family received a knock on the door. Family members were expecting their loved one, Spc. Jose Rivera, to come home from combat. Instead, they were visited by a captain and chaplain who told them that he was not coming home.

"I told them to go away. I told them, 'Go away. Tell me he's OK,'" she said.

Camp Lejeune has the most North Carolina casualties with 26. Five other service members who grew up in North Carolina died in Iraq. They were based at military installations outside the state.