Hope stays home as loved ones go to Iraq

Reflecting on her loved one overseas, Christen Jones, junior biology/pre-veternary major, holds a photo of her boyfriend Jared Fielding. Fielding is serving in Iraq.

Reflecting on her loved one overseas, Christen Jones, junior biology/pre-veternary major, holds a photo of her boyfriend Jared Fielding. Fielding is serving in Iraq.

Monique Jamerson

War’s sting has been felt at Missouri Southern.

V.A. Christensen, associate professor of art, is the father of Tyler Christensen, 22, who was called to duty in February 2003 and left in May 2003 to fight in Iraq.

Christensen said he was disappointed when his son first told him he had to leave.

“Tyler was getting back on track, he was doing well in college, and I felt that this [the war] would cause an interruption,” Christensen said.

Before being called to duty, Tyler was a student at Southern and his dream was to play college football.

“I hope when Tyler returns, he will be able to pick up where he left off,” he said.

Christensen and his son keep in touch through telephone conversations and e-mails, but not too often.

“The moment we hang up the telephone or log off the computer, I never know how he is doing,” he said. “I guess I operate on no news is good news.”

Christensen said he tries not to watch the news, because it is not specific about the war in Iraq.

Tyler is due back home in May, but in the last conversation Christensen and his son had, Tyler told him he would be there longer than planned.

“I have no idea when Tyler will return, but I miss my son, and I am ready for him to come home,” Christensen said.

Christensen said it’s hard enough on parents to deal with their child being in war, but he couldn’t imagine what it would be like for a soldier to have to leave his wife and children behind.

“I think Tyler is grateful he didn’t have to deal with that,” he said.

Since Tyler has been gone, Christensen said he has been dealing with stress that has been building up over a period of time.

“With all of the stress, I suddenly realize I am dealing with a lot,” Christensen said.

He said he knows his son is doing well in Iraq, because Tyler is physically and psychologically what a soldier should be.

“I trust him with my life,” Christensen said.

“If you were wanting someone to stand back-to-back with you, Tyler would be the one.”

Christen Jones, junior biology/ pre-veterinary major said her boyfriend, Jared Fielding, 24, has been in Iraq since the beginning of March 2004.

Fielding has been in the Marines for six years and going to war is something he has always wanted to do.

“When Jared first told me that he was leaving to fight in Iraq, it was like a slap in the face,” Jones said.

Jones said it is hard dealing with him being gone, but she supports him.

“I don’t want Jared over there but I support him and the other troops,” Jones said.

Jones and her boyfriend, like Christensen and his son, spend some time talking on the telephone and e-mailing each other.

“Jared sent me a DVD that he made of himself, and I got to hear his voice,” Jones said. “It’s very rare that I actually get to hear his voice, because he can’t call often.”

She said she tries not to worry about Fielding being killed in the war although she said it is a possibility.

“It’s scary to hear on CNN when more Marines have died and not knowing if Jared is one of them,” Jones said.

She said it is hard for her to read the news, but then again, it is hard not to.

“Jared being in the war has caused a lot of emotional stress,” Jones said.

Currently, Fielding is stationed west of Baghdad but no specifics have been given to his exact location.

Jones said Fielding is not allowed to disclose certain information, because it could get him in trouble, and he doesn’t want her to worry.

“He tells me that he cannot tell me what he is going through, but says we have a lot to talk about when he returns,” Jones said.

She said the weirdest thing about Fielding being in Iraq is that she can’t go to his house whenever she wants, nor can she pick up the telephone and call him at anytime. Fielding is scheduled to be home from the war sometime around Thanksgiving.

“My roommate’s fiancé has been extended twice so I am not real sure if Jared will be home around Thanksgiving,” Jones said.

“All I know is that I miss Jared, and I am ready for him to come home. I was ready for him to return when he left.”

Jenna Bass, sophomore Spanish/radiology major, became engaged just a month after her fiancé was called to duty in Iraq.

Jake Edwards, 21, was called to duty in March and left for Iraq in May.

Bass said she had planned for Edwards to be gone for 365 days, like his orders stated.

“A couple of days ago, I found out that Jake’s orders got extended to September,” Bass said.

She said when she heard the news she became upset because she had no control over the situation.

“It’s kind of frustrating, because I can’t do anything about it,” Bass said.

Bass and her fiancé have plans to marry in August 2005.

“I miss him more than I could miss anyone ever,” she said. “When he finally returns, I’ll be excited beyond anything.”

Bass said when Edwards returns, the couple plans to continue preparing for the wedding.

“I just hope he makes it home so we can continue life together,” she said.