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Staying strong on the homefront

Belinda Bloodworth missed a phone call from a friend currently deployed to Afghanistan on a recent Sunday while she was in church, and she’s determined that it’s not going to happen again.


August 30, 2009 7:45 PM

“I was sitting in church and thought ‘what if he calls,’ because he called the previous Sunday while I was in church and I missed the call, and I thought well I’ll put my phone on vibrate and exit the church and hope that God forgives me, but I need to answer this call,” she said.

The Jacksonville resident is just one of the thousands with friends, family and loved ones currently serving in Afghanistan, where Camp Lejeune has had 20 casualties since July 1.

“At this point, the only thing you can wait for is a phone call. The only thing they have is a (satellite) phone and a lot of the times when they call, your call will get dropped within minutes and that’s their last call. There’s no access to e-mail or anything like that,” Bloodworth said.

Chrissy Demko, 20, of Hightstown, N.J., knows that she will hear from her boyfriend, Lance Cpl. Jason Russ who is currently deployed with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, once every two to three weeks for 10 minutes at a time, she said during a recent phone call with The Daily News.

“It’s hard, but I realized how much I took for granted before they left. Now whenever I get a phone call, it means a lot,” she said.

Despite the time between calls, Demko said she doesn’t worry.

“I know he’s an amazing Marine, and if I don’t hear from him for a while I usually write him a couple letters. I feel closer to him when I do that,” she said.

Letters are more personal than e-mail, Demko said, and easier to save.

“You can hold onto letters forever. I still have every letter he’s written me since boot camp,” she said.

Worry kicks in, however, when Demko hears that a Marine has been killed.

“No one ever wants to see that because that’s someone’s boyfriend, fiancée, husband or son. I always get worried in the pit of my stomach, but I just have to keep my head up and hope he’s OK,” she said.

Bloodworth is doing her best to keep up with what’s going on with the troops in Afghanistan, particularly those with 2/8 who her friend is deployed with.

“I read … anything I can find on the Internet — Washington Post, New York Times, The Daily News. The Lejeune (Deployed) blog is very helpful … and I stay in constant contact with his family. If he calls me, I call them; if he calls them, they call me, so we keep in contact,” Bloodworth said, explaining that she also reads The Times Online and MarineParents.com.

Demko also keeps an eye on the news and communicates regularly with Russ’ family, she said.

While Bloodworth admits to being in “a panic” when she realizes she forgot her phone, waiting for a call gets harder when a casualty has been announced, she said.

“Sometimes it’s a long time when you hear from your loved one or your friend that’s there and whenever you hear news like that, it’s hard. You start to think ‘Is it that person? Why haven’t I heard from them? Are they making a push? Are they sitting somewhere waiting?’ You never know what’s going on, it’s kind of hard,” Bloodworth said.

Despite the hardships and worry, at the end of the day Bloodworth is proud of her Marine.

“You have to be proud, though, of what they’re doing,” she said. “It takes a brave person to do what they’re doing.

“I tell my friends that all the time: ‘Thank you for what you’re doing.’”