Local News

Wait for Information on Fort Bragg Casualties Long, Frustrating for Many

Posted April 25, 2007 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2007 8:57 p.m. EDT

— When nine paratroopers died in Iraq Monday, the names of the soldiers weren’t officially released, but the military reported they were from Fort Bragg. With limited news, the wait for families can be unbearable.

The Army has notified all family members and should release names of the nine soldiers by Thursday. Three of the soldiers killed were Sgt. Clint Moore, who was a former Benson resident and South Johnston High School graduate; Pvt. 1st Class Mike Rodriguez, whose mother lives in North Carolina, and medic Garrett Knoll from Michigan.

Department of Defense procedure is to notify families of the victims and give them 24 hours to digest what's happened before releasing names to the public.

The news was sobering for anyone to hear. But to Fort Bragg wives with husbands deployed to a war zone, it was downright horrifying.

"I get very nervous," said former family readiness leader Christine Wilson. "It does make you stop and say, ‘Wow, what if it's me?’"

With few details available at first, just hearing the soldiers killed were from Fort Bragg was enough to cause panic.

"We've had a number of families and friends e-mail or call us asking if their loved one is safe, and within reason we try to calm them down," said Maj. Tom Earnhardt, public affairs officer for the 82nd Airborne.

Earnhardt said Army leaders understand why families get upset. But with such a major loss, officials can't always notify everyone before the media report where the soldiers are stationed.

"Rumors travel quickly,” he said. “And by coming out and addressing this with the media, we were able to pare it down to the squadron that was affected, and that reduces worry."

Army wife Wendy McAllister has her own way of avoiding worry. She focuses on her 2-year-old daughter and has canceled her television service completely.

"If I don't watch the news, I don't freak out about it as much," McAllister said.