Sunday, July 13, 2003

Parents' pride: All 3 kids in Iraq

Mom, dad lead parade

By Jeremy W. Steele
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's safe to say Bill and Mary Staun's first ride in an Army Humvee was considerably more enjoyable their eldest child's last.

"Rosemarie was in a Humvee from Kuwait to Baghdad and back," Mary said of their daughter, an Army first lieutenant who returned from Iraq on July 3 after six months in the Middle East.

"She said 48 hours in a Humvee wasn't very comfortable."

Dad and mom, however, enjoyed their Saturday morning trip through the main square of Pleasant Ridge. The couple stood through a hole in the roof of the camouflage Army vehicle, fulfilling their duties as grand marshals of this year's Ridge Days parade.

They waved at neighbors as the procession passed their own home, a two-story house on a shaded street where three blue stars are displayed on a red and white banner in the front window.

It's a traditional sign of support for children sent to war. The Stauns' three children - 1st Lt. Rosemarie Staun-Sutton, 24, Sgt. William Staun IV, 22, and Pfc. Margaret "Peggy" Staun, 19 - are all in the Army and were all sent to Iraq to take part in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

The Stauns' story, and their three children, were featured on the Dec. 8 cover of USA Weekend, a Sunday magazine distributed with the Enquirer and more than 590 newspapers nationwide.

Only Rosemarie and her husband, Army Capt. Mack Sutton,, who was stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., and also sent to Iraq, have returned, leaving half of the family out of regular communication with each other.

The last his parents heard, William was with troops still battling to put down pockets of resistance. Peggy, a military police private, was patrolling a southern Iraqi city.

Details are sketchy, and that can make for difficult times, especially in an age of 24-hour cable news channels broadcasting scenes of destruction in Iraq. And although President Bush declared the combat phase of the war over on May 1, 31 U.S. troops have been killed in hostile fire since the unofficial end of the war.

On Monday, Spec. Chad Keith, of Batesville, Ind., was killed when a roadside bomb exploded as his unit was patrolling Baghdad. In May, Pfc. Marlin Rockhold of Hamilton was shot by a sniper while he directed traffic in Baghdad.

"You want to know what's going on. We know they're involved, but we don't know how much," Mary said. "Every time we hear a Tristate soldier has been hurt or killed, we get worried."

Added Bill: "About two weeks ago, there was a report that a female MP had shot two Iraqis dead. So that wasn't the kind of news I wanted to hear either."

They do know an artery in William's shoulder was ruptured in April when his gun misfired inside a tank. He ended up in a medical station outside of Baghdad where Rosemarie was stationed.

He returned to the front lines four days later.

But the Stauns remain strong. They smile and joke about all the attention they've received.

They find it ironic that even though their children have charted different courses for themselves, they all ended up helping each other in Iraq.

Rosemarie was stationed in the supply lines that fed the front lines, where her husband and brother were. Peggy came in to restore order.

"So the family worked together," Bill said.

The parents, too, are helping. They regularly send care packages and have praised their children in countless interviews, including one a daughter saw overseas.

"They are as proud of us as we are of them," Mary said. "She was very proud that we could stay professional and upbeat."



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