Special Report: On The Homefront - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report: On The Homefront

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July 18, 2005

Cordele-- Right now about 3,500 Georgia National Guard troops are serving in Iraq. It's a difficult and dangerous mission. It's also hard for families here at home.

Angela Craft and 3-year-old Caleb are attempting to make house while their loved one is away from home. "We have just moved in, moved in the first of July," says Angela. It's a move made without Angela's husband. "This has been the hardest move because he hasn't been here," says Angela. It's also a new house without Caleb's father. Staff Sargeant Keith Craft is overseas with the 48th Brigade.

"That's my Daddy," says Caleb.

When he left for Iraq, he took a part of his wife and son. So together, Angela and Caleb are building a strong foundation on the homefront. "Yeah, I hope I am. I feel like I'm a good mother and I try hard," says Angela. Together, they're counting down the days until Keith returns. "And we cant wait can we?," says Angela. "Oom oom!," agrees Caleb. Until that day, it's business as usual.

"Work until five and come home, cook supper, get him ready for bed, give him a bath and start the day over again," says Angela. They're busy days but the nights are probably the hardest. "Most of the time at night, he starts saying that he misses his Daddy and he wants his Daddy to come home," says Angela. "Bad because I misses him," says Caleb. So Angela has to be strong for herself and Caleb. It's a struggle. "I try to just not let him see me cry but there's plenty of times I do," says Angela, "he doesn't understand the bad side of it. He just thinks that his Daddy is a soldier and he thinks that's wonderful."

But just thinking about when he left for the war leaves an incomplete feeling. "It was a lot of emotions, a lot of crying, just because the thought of they might not come back," says Angela. She picks up his letters from time to time and writes whenever she can. "To be honest with you, I have like three unfinished letters," says Angela. But the finished ones are what matter the most. "Because I love getting letters from him. It's different than just being able to talk on the phone," says Angela.

The communication is what keeps them together even though they're far apart along with vivid memories like pictures on a shelf. "This is an old picture from when we first got married," says Angela. But the best picture that provides that memory hangs from the wall. "That was seven years ago, so we've come a long way," says Angela. Walls of pictures aren't enough to keep this house standing. "I guess it's true what they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder because I love him so much it hurts," says Angela. It takes him to make it complete but loving family helps to lend support.

"She wants to try and do everything by herself you know. I said baby you can't do it by yourself, you have to let us help you," says Keith's stepfather Larry Jackson. Keith's parents help to bring some stability by remaining a strong unit until he comes home. "We all pitch in, stick together and pray together and just pray that he'll come home, just do his job and come home," says his mother Paula Jackson. That won't be for a couple of months. I asked Angela exactly what she'd do to see his face.

"Right now I would to be honest with you, I would fly to Iraq. I would go through anything," says Angela. But she doesn't have to go that far to see him. We brought him to them in a satellite interview. This is how it went. Being away from home is extra hard for Keith.

"I realize how much I depend on you and Caleb. I know you always look up to me and say I'm the strong one but this is a test," says Keith. "You are strong," says Angela. Keith knows that while he's fighting the war, his family is fighting to keep up the homefront.

"The house is coming along good. It's just not the same without you there. I can't wait for you to be there with us but it's coming along. We've got everything set up and we're just waiting on you baby," says Angela. It's a wait that both are willing to endure. "We'll make it forever baby. You just make sure you come back safe," says Angela.

"I know. I will," says Keith.

It'll be a few more long days and nights of waiting for time to fly by. "I wish I could say I'd be home real soon but I'll be home as soon as I can," says Keith. "It'll go by fast if we just keep praying," says Angela. "God bless everybody, my Daddy being a soldier. Amen!," prays Caleb.

Even with prayers, unpacking and decorating, the house isn't complete. "I would wait for him forever. He is everything to me along with our son. He is an amazing man," says Angela.

Until he comes back, their house won't be a home.

Keith is expected to be home in September for only a few days. Those days will be extra special for the family.

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