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Marine moms meet online, gather in Lincoln

The parents of Marines in the Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group struggled when their children were deployed a year ago.

Please click on above link for photo.

By ZACH PLUHACEK / Lincoln Journal Star
Sunday, Nov 02, 2008 - 12:03:54 am CDT

“You go into your son’s room and you break into tears because he’s not there any more,” said Marine mom Pattie Taylor.

About 15 of those parents soon found comfort and understanding from people they had never met — each other.

Using a Web site, MarineParents.com, they’ve kept in touch.

“Our sons joined the Marines,” said mother Dee McHugh, “but we were drafted into the corps.”

This weekend, for the third time, parents from the message board gathered, this time at Marine mom Sally Rasmussen’s house in southeast Lincoln.

Saturday, they made care packages. They drank and shared stories. They sat on Rasmussen’s porch and teased Oklahoman Jan Feuerborn on the day of the Nebraska-Oklahoma football game.

They half-joked about “loading the bus” on anything or anyone who made their children’s lives more difficult.

“Loading the bus” is Marine parent code for venting about things like out-of-date meals the kids often eat and the news stories they’ve read.

Not all the parents support the Iraq War, but that isn’t the point.

“Regardless of how you feel about the war, those are our boys,” Feuerborn said. “Those are our children.”

The online group met when their sons deployed and started sharing photos a few months later.

They still talk during 2-hour Web chat sessions on Wednesday nights, even though most of their sons are back in the United States.

Many of their Marines don’t even know each other, or only by last names. Some found out their fellow soldiers’ first names from their parents.

“And they’re embarrassed as all hell because we all do this,” Illinois mom Kathy Featherston said.

“God knows it was a blessing for all of us to find each other and that site.”

Reach Zach Pluhacek at 473-7306 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com.