Alex, 5, looks out
from between his parents, Chris and Mary, during Mary's mobilization
ceremony with the N.C. Army National Guard's 30th Corps Support
Group. The ceremony was held at Durham's Northern High School
on Feb. 2. After the ceremony, Mary moved to Fayetteville where
she was stationed with her unit at Fort Bragg for 10 weeks before
Alex (right) gets
some assistance from a friend in trying on Mary's uniform and
helmet inside her barracks at Fort Bragg. Mary's deployment orders
were delayed several times by only a few days, leaving her to
wonder if every visit by her children would be their last.
After eight weeks
of waiting, Mary and the 30th Corps Support Group deployed to
the Middle East on April 4, 2003. During her last hour on U.S.
soil, she breaks down alongside Chris inside an airplane hangar
at Pope Air Force Base.
Mary shares a final
moment with Alex and Matthew while Claire and her mother, Mary
Hudson, stand by at Pope Air Force Base. The unit then boarded
buses from the hangar to the runway where they took off for an
undisclosed location in the Middle East. Mary's deployment orders
could last one year.