I've said good-bye to my two older sons and am watching the remaining children expand until they've filled the void left by the high school graduates. Meanwhile, with one son in Spokane and the other in Eugene, I know that the house is a little emptier and the cupboards are not nearly so bare.

Do I miss them? You bet. However, I think my separation anxiety is not quite so anxious. That's because my children are not in Iraq or Afghanistan. The simple separation due to growing up and moving on is just that - simple - when you compare it to the complexity of emotions ranging from incredible pride to abject terror that must run through the hearts of the parents of our soldiers and sailors.

As this area prepares to say good-bye to even more of its sons and daughters as the Third Battalion, 116th Cavalry readies for departure, I thought you'd like to know that it's almost time to say hello to one of Pendleton's military children.

J.D. Lambert, Pendleton High School Class of 2001, has been stationed in Iraq since early January. J.D. is part of the Charlie Company 1/27 Wolfhounds. The unit's home base is in Hawaii. His wife, Lindsey, wrote to report that the wives of these soldiers are so proud of their husbands that they're planning to give them a great welcome home.

J.D. and the other troops are in the heart of the area controlled by Sunni Muslims. Lindsey wrote that the soldiers have brought water purification systems to villages, funded sewage systems in cities that had no waste management, have built schools where none existed, renovated Mosques, supervised paving of roads and trained and equipped both the Iraqi National Guard and the new Iraqi police force.

"We want to give our Wolfhounds a true hero's welcome," Lindsey wrote.

These wives are organized. First they are working on a welcome home party that, in her words, is "100 percent paid for."

The spouses aren't stopping there. They also want to give the unmarried soldiers a treat. Lindsey said they want to provide each room with new sheets, towels, toiletries and pizza an soda, since it will take them time to get their household goods out of storage.

"We don't want them to have to sleep with whatever they have in their bags," she said. The soldiers should return home sometime between Jan. 5 and Feb. 13, according to the Army. Lindsey said any of J.D.'s friends in the community can mail items for the single soldiers or donations (checks should be made payable to 1/27 Charlie Company Funds) to Lindsey Lambert, 161 Ahamaka Road, No.102, Wahiawa, HI 96786. She'd also appreciate receiving cards and letters welcoming J.D. when he returns home. In addition, she asked that everyone be sure to send their return addresses so she can send out receipts and thank you cards with a special gift.

As Lindsey (joined, I'm sure by J.D.'s mom, dad and three brothers) gets ready to prepare for a homecoming that could be three or four months away, and the families of National Guard troops get ready for their children to depart at the end of the year, the absences in my house don't seem so all-consuming.

Stay safe all of you sons and daughters away from home. Whether you're still in the same area code or in another hemisphere, you're missed.

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Terry Murry can be reached at tmurry@eastoregonian.com or by calling (541) 966-0810.

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