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Troops abroad stay close at heart to South Whidbey
The war in Iraq, and the potential for fighting in other spots around the world, is far from gone for numerous South Whidbey residents who are serving in the United States armed forces.
The tension on South Whidbey has relaxed slightly, with the hopes the war will soon come to an end.
But for friends and family members of the women and men who are serving abroad, the war has yet to let their loved ones come home.
For Myron Colson of Clinton, the worries are doubled. Both of his sons, Jesse and Scott Colson, 21 and 20, leave tomorrow for Iraq. Colson's sons are stationed at separate Army bases in Germany and, coincidentally, will both deploy on the same day to Iraq.
Maryann Davis of Clinton gets an early reminder every day that her son-in-law is in Iraq. She arrives at her daughter's house every morning by 5 a.m. to help with child care and transportation for her 3-year-old grandson, Hunter. Her daughter, Lisa Bova, needs the help while her husband, Sundown, is an Army reservist deployed to Iraq. While he is gone, Lisa continues to commute to work daily in Seattle.
Davis said Bova's Clinton businesses, Whidbey Oil Sales and Clinton Family Rent-A-Car, are proudly adorned with yellow ribbons to tell the community and Sundown Bova his family is thinking of him.
Below are 10 South Whidbey women and men in the military -- some deployed to war zones and some not -- family and friends have on their minds.
Army Staff Sgt. Sundown Bova, of Clinton, is in the 12th Aviation, 159th Battalion. Bova, currently deployed to Iraq, has been in the Reserves for 17 years. He was recently promoted to the rank of staff sergeant. Bova is a 1987 graduate of South Whidbey High School and owns Whidbey Oil Sales and Clinton Family Rent-A-Car in Clinton. He is the husband of Lisa Bova. The couple has one son, Hunter. Bova has a sister, Gina Biggs of Clinton, and is the son-in-law of Glen and Maryann Davis of Clinton.
Army Pvt. First Class Jesse Colson is a paratrooper in the First Armored Division of the Fifth Mechanized Infantry rapid-response brigade. He is stationed in Baumholder, Germany, and is currently deployed to Iraq. His father is Myron Colson of Clinton and his younger brother, Scott, is also in the Army deployed to Iraq. He is a 2000 graduate of Port Angeles High School.
Army Pvt. First Class Scott Colson is a crew gunner for an Abrams tank in the First Calvary Division. He is stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, and is currently deployed to Iraq. His father is Myron Colson of Clinton and his older brother, Jesse, is also in the Army deployed to Iraq. He is a 2001 graduate of Port Angeles High School.
Army Pvt. Jeremy Czarnik is a paratrooper in Second Battalion of the 503rd Infantry A Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade. Czarnik is currently deployed to Northern Iraq. He is the son of Matt and Angela Czarnik of Freeland, and brother to Jennifer Czarnik and Adam and Kyle West, and grandson of Lanny Workman of Clinton. He is a 2002 graduate of Central Kitsap High School.
Navy Petty Officer Third Class Andrea Gregory is stationed aboard the USS Frank Cable in Guam. Gregory is the daughter of Daniel and Marilynn Gregory of Langley, and the sister of Ruth and Danny Gregory. She is a 1999 graduate of South Whidbey High School.
Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Helland is a helicopter maintenance technician on the USS Essex. He is currently stationed in Okinawa and serving in the Western Pacific. He is the son of Mike Helland of Clinton and Beverly Helland of Black Canyon City, Ariz., the brother of Amanda Ratcliff of Coupeville and Mike Helland Jr. of Seattle. He is a 2001 graduate of South Whidbey High School.
Airman 1st Class Brian Kelley is stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. He is currently deployed to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean with the 509th Bomb Wing. Kelley is a B-2 stealth bomber crew chief. Kelley is the son of Michael and Leslie Kelley of Langley. He is a 2000 graduate of South Whidbey High School.
Airman 1st Class Tamara Safford is stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. She is the daughter of Ron Safford and Desiree Ross of Clinton, and sister to Allison Safford, Killian Ross, Kiah Ross and Tony Safford. Safford is a 2001 graduate of South Whidbey High School.
Marine Lance Cpl. Eric Salazar is deployed in the Persian Gulf/Iraq area. Salazar is a crew chief for CH-53 Helicopter also known as the Sea Stallion. Salazar is aboard the USS Boxer. He is the son of Sally and Alberto Salazar of Clinton. Salazar is a 2001 graduate of South Whidbey High School.
Marine Cpl. Gerald Madsen is stationed at Camp Lejuene, N.C., and is deployed to Iraq. Madsen is a military peace keeping patrol and protecting troops on convoy resupplies to troops. His mother is Stephanie M. Neis of Langley. His father is John Madsen of Clinton. His brothers are Phillip and Howard Madsen of Clinton. Madsen is a 2000 graduate of South Whidbey High School.
Marine Cpl. Alexander W. Hawley, son of Michael and M'Liss Hawley of Freeland, has been on continuous overseas deployment for over a year and is scheduled to return to the Korean Demilitarized Zone at the end of May for another tour. He is a 2001 graduate of South Whidbey High School and is currently serving in the Philippines.