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Specter of War Hovers Over Family Gatherings, 12.25.02 ...


Stewart Orr remembers the loneliness of driving back to Fort Knox, Ky., last Dec. 25 to rejoin his fellow National Guardsmen.

Today, on Christmas, he's home for the holidays, and he can't hold his wife and three children close enough.

"It's nice to sit down on the couch and have a kid put a head on your lap and watch a TV show," Captain Orr said. "They've got me watching Gilmore Girls and Friends. I'm watching tons and tons of TV I don't really like just because it's so much fun to be home. I can put up with Gilmore Girls after not being home with my own girls for so long. I can't tell you how delightful it is."

Captain Orr, a member of Bowling Green-based Company B, 1st Batallion, 148th Infantry Regiment, is one of the lucky ones: a National Guardsmen who's home for Christmas this year.

Some 1,053 Ohio National Guard soldiers and airmen are on duty today and won't have that luxury. Countless full-time members of the armed services are overseas or stationed at U.S. military posts serving their country on a day when just about everyone wants so much to be home with family and friends.

Brenda Orcelletto of Woodville was struggling between pride for her 20-year-old son's military commitment and a longing to have him sitting at the dinner table today.

"It's been especially hard for me because my mom passed away two years ago right before Christmas, and ever since she passed away it's just so important for me to have my whole family here for Christmas," she said.

Daryl Orcelletto, a 2001 graduate of Woodmore High School, operates a drone - an unmanned aerial vehicle - as a member of the 21st Military Intelligence Company. Because of his assignment, his parents will not know where he's stationed or even when he leaves for an impending overseas mission.

It scares his mother to think of the possibility of war with Iraq.

"Very much so because I know he will be over there for a year. He has a mandatory year tour," she said, adding that once he leaves Fort Polk in Leesville, La., she will no longer be able to reach him by cell phone.

"We will be able to write, but I won't be able to pick up the phone and say, ‘Geez, how are you doing today? I miss you, honey. Can't wait 'til you get home,' " Mrs. Orcelletto said.

Dawn Domonokos already knows how that feels.

Her husband, Jason Domonokos, is out to sea with the U.S. Marine Corps, and she is spending the holidays with her parents in Sylvania and his family in Toledo.

"I didn't realize we would go this long without communication. This is really hard," she said. "If I knew exactly where he was and I could talk to him every single day, that would be great even if it wasn't over the phone, even it was just e-mail."
Credit: toledoblade.com


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