Soldiers in Iraq leave behind relatives who share their sacrifices
JEFFERSON CITY—America has learned all about the definition of true heroism in the 2000s—those who are willing to sacrifice everything in the war-torn land of Iraq.
Men and women are sacrificing to fight a war on terror while families are left behind without husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons or daughters. But do we give much thought to the heroes of the homeland? We have two such people who work right here in the Baptist Building—wives of soldiers and members of Missouri Baptist churches. They are Elaine Carder, administrative assistant in human resources and a member of Memorial Baptist Church in Jefferson City, and Linda Boorman, mail center manager and a member of Southridge Baptist Church in Jefferson City.
It was 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, an action that triggered the American response, which resulted in Operation Desert Storm. Warrant Officer Kenny Carder was deployed to Iraq in 1991, leaving behind Elaine. She was pregnant with their first-born child who was born while he was overseas.
“I’ve been deployed four times to Iraq since then,” he said.
When asked what role and support she has been during these times, he said, “It would be humanly impossible to do anything without Elaine’s support. She’s my counselor.” He noted that being in the military means much stress, but “the reason why our marriage is successful is because of our relationship with Christ.”
Having to take care of their two children on her own, Elaine has had to manage school, camps, athletics and church for Cody, 16, and Shelby, 11. “Cody has been a Godsend,” Kenny Carder said. “He’s the man of the house while I’m gone.”
Shelby, being more emotional, is just as strong, according to her mother. “When Kenny’s home on leave she wouldn’t let him out of sight,” she said.
“One verse that has given me strength and comfort when Kenny’s gone is Philippians 4:13 which says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Carder has been back from Iraq for a little over a year now and he is currently working full time for the Missouri National Guard. Although he’s back in the comfort of his own home instead of in the deserts of Iraq, where sandstorms are common and violence fills the unpaved roads that are used for convoys, Carder still has vivid memories of what war did and also of the presence of the Lord, even in times of rest.
“The last time I was in Iraq I had the whole responsibility to get the men from Iraq to Kuwait,” Carder said, “It was rough with snipers and bombings along the way in the convoys, but I remember one night before I laid down, I was praying and I heard God say, ‘It’s OK, you’re going to be fine.’ It was amazing, as if He were right there next to me speaking.”
Staff Sgt. Paul Boorman got his orders to go to Iraq in January 2005. He did his training in Fort Bliss, Texas. As he spoke of the atmosphere in Iraq, he said, “You haven’t really seen the desert until you’ve seen Iraq. It’s nothing but sand as far as the eye can see.”
Boorman worked in the recovery section where he saw things that no man should have to see, but he said that even in the midst of all the turmoil and pain he still felt God’s presence.
“Any time you simply wake up you know it’s because of God; in the middle of bombs God was there. God showed Himself through nature. Even in the middle of nothing we’d be given little glimpses of God’s beauty,” Boorman said
Before he went to bed at night he got a slight feeling of home as he looked at a photo of his wife, Linda, and their dog, Brutus, who is affectionately known as their “son.” This is when he prayed.
“I talked one on one with God; it was a continual conversation,” he said. “I would pray mostly for safety and that it would get over quick so I could go home.”
The mainstream media tends to miss elements of what is actually happening on the ground in Iraq, Boorman said.
“TV doesn’t show all the good things that are going on, and what we do for the people of Iraq,” he said. “They just show killing, but there have been soldiers who have gone into orphanages and villages and taken books, food and have even donated blood to the people of Iraq.”
Having been to Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, Boorman said, “You wouldn’t believe what these palaces were like. The handles in the showers and on the toilets were pure gold. There were stained glass ceilings, and the walls and flooring were all marble.”
He spoke of the lakes that were right outside the balconies of the palaces. On one side there was a scene that resembled tropical beauty; on the other side was complete poverty.
“People lived in mud huts right next to one of these palaces,” Boorman said.
Boorman came home in February 2006. He returned to his old job with the National Guard here, but just like Carder, he has strong memories of that war-torn country that are still in the forefront of his mind.
“When you’re in the middle of war you focus on what’s going on around you (and) you must keep your mind on home,” Boorman said. But now that they’re home, it’s hard not to remember what the war and grief in that area of the world was like.
Both Carder and Boorman said that it was the prayers of their wives and other brothers and sisters in Christ that kept them alive. Boorman said that when he came back on his two-week leave in October 2005, while he was in Atlanta, he and some other soldiers in the airport never paid for a meal and were moved to first class seating on the flight in honor of the sacrifices they’ve made.
May we never forget their sacrifice and the sacrifices of the families of those in the military during this time.