One day after a deadly attack at an Army base in Mosul, word was trickling in on the fate of some soldiers in the Fort Lewis-based Stryker unit, though many families continued...
One day after a deadly attack at an Army base in Mosul, word was trickling in on the fate of some soldiers in the Fort Lewis-based Stryker unit, though many families continued to anxiously await any news — good or bad — from the front.
The Department of Defense has yet to release the identities of the soldiers who died in the explosion Tuesday morning and has not indicated how many of them were from the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division Stryker unit.
Those names are expected to be released this week after families are notified.
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During the first 24 hours after the attack, families and friends said soldiers were prohibited from contacting them. While waiting for word, many turned to the online bulletin board at www.strykerbrigade.com for news and words of encouragement.
“Yesterday was the longest day in my life even though it was the shortest day of the year,” one person wrote in an online post. “I am still waiting to hear word.”
Others who finally heard from soldiers in Mosul yesterday urged people to be patient.
“I just got off the phone with my husband. He said the phones and Internet just came back up, and there are long lines for the phones,” one wrote.
Susan Bourque of Portland, whose son is stationed in Mosul with the 1st Brigade, finally got good news via an Internet message yesterday morning.
Her son, 1st Lt. John Bourque, had been on patrol outside the base during lunchtime, so he escaped the mess-tent blast.
“He’s doing good, although he couldn’t say anything more than that,” she said.
Bourque said the e-mail message ended a horrible day of waiting. “It was absolutely beyond scary,” she said. “As soon as they announced where this happened, we knew it was his FOB (Forward Operating Base), and we never thought we would be in a situation like this.”
For Ed Andrea of Bellevue, whose son and daughter-in-law are both stationed in Mosul, the wait to hear from either of them was like “we were in limbo,” he said. While he understood the need for the Army to clamp down on soldiers’ phone and Internet use in the hours after the explosion to prevent rumors and misinformation from spreading, “it was very frustrating,” he said.
His son finally managed to call and relay that both he and his wife were safe.
“We’re very fortunate,” Andrea said. “We were worried until we could actually hear from him.”
For others, the excruciating wait to hear from loved ones continues.
Since the attack, Chris Cooper of Tallahassee, Fla., has been unable to concentrate on anything except finding out whether his nephew, a specialist in the Stryker brigade, is safe.
Desperate for information, Cooper began searching online for news and contacts. He sent e-mails and instant messages to his nephew and called everywhere from the Fort Lewis chaplain’s office to the hospital in Germany, where injured soldiers are being evacuated.
“I figured no news is good news,” he said, but not hearing back from anyone has only fed his anxiety.
“I’ve tried everything,” he said. “There’s no one I can get a hold of.”
Since he was deployed to Mosul in October, Cooper’s nephew kept in close contact with the family, most of whom live in Florida. But they hadn’t heard anything since he called last week, his uncle said.
“We’ve been waiting by the telephone,” Cooper said. “Everyone’s on pins and needles.”