Ringing Iraq

Every time the phone rings, Deanna Groves is filled with dread.

Since the war with Iraq began, the 17-year-old Dirigo High School junior has been scared for her brother Scott.

Scott Groves, 23, is a heavy equipment driver with the Maine Army National Guard’s 1136th Transportation Co. in Sanford. He is currently stationed at Fort Dix, N.J., while his unit awaits chemical suits before being deployed to Iraq, she said.

“What really stinks is he has and knows his orders, but he can’t tell us anything,” Deanna said. “It’s hard because my brother has always been there for me.”

Once a week, her brother is allowed a 10- to 15-minute phone call, which can, for Deanna and her mother, come early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Thus, their home in Greenwood has become quieter while they wait for the phone to ring.

– Terry Karkos
Gone for a year

Jackie Preston has a friend in Iraq.

The coffee shop manager for Stephens Memorial Hospital has known Marine Joseph Dench from Poland for quite a few years from church, the Poland Baptist Church.

“I knew him when he was a boy, and now he’s a man,” Preston said. “He was quite something when he came back from boot camp,” she said. “His back was so straight, and he carried his hat, well, he carried his hat so straight.”

It has been more than a year since she saw Joe.

She said she learned recently that Joe had been in An Nasiriyah and now was heading north to Baghdad.

Preston said she is able to follow Joe’s progress because his father, Bryan, sends an e-mail, and church members share it.

She said Bryan’s latest e-mail says that Joe is asking for baby wipes, black pens with no metal clips, black socks, jelly beans and eyedrops.

“He said there is the worst stench when guys take their boots off,” Preston said. “Most haven’t bathed in 19-20 days.

“We – the whole church – all worry about him a lot,” she said. “He gets a lot of prayers.”

– Jim Smedley
Missing graduation

Dirigo High School senior Kevin Knight is disappointed that his dad probably won’t be attending his graduation ceremony in June.

But he understands why.

Kevin’s dad, Karl, a U.S. Army medical brigade member, left for duty in Kuwait a few weeks ago as part of America’s war with Iraq.

“He’s needed to be over there to be with the process,” Kevin Knight said. “Graduation’s coming up, but he probably won’t make it back in time.

“But it would be nice to have him back.”

The 17-year-old said his dad, whose duty includes environmental work, did send the family a letter from Kuwait.

“He has to carry a 100-pound pack with sleeping gear and an AK-47 (assault rifle),” Kevin Knight said.

“He said he was on the move a lot.”


– Terry Karkos
Help is at hand

For 14-year-old Holly Knight, a Dirigo High School freshman, life has changed since her dad, Karl Knight, was deployed to Kuwait.

Instead of her dad picking her up after basketball or softball practice, it’s her brother or her mother.

“I miss seeing him at the games.”

But she supports the war and the troops, despite the absence of her father. Although she watches the war news “a lot, to see what’s going on,” she doesn’t expect to see him on television.

Since her father was deployed, Holly has noticed another change in the community and at school.

“People here are more helpful now that dad has gone into the war. If you need anything, they’ll help you out,” she said.

– Terry Karkos
Symbol approved

Allowing residents to tie yellow ribbons in the town’s right of way might “open a can of worms,” believes Oxford Town Manager Mike Huston.

Huston told selectmen at Thursday’s meeting that the town doesn’t allow flea market posters or other items to be placed on trees that are on public property.

What if residents decided to put up blue ribbons, too, he asked. Other towns have allowed public ways to be used for ribbons and flags, but some towns have run into trouble with it, he said.

In Portland, police recently removed furniture, bedding and a tarpaulin placed in Monument Square by antiwar protesters. Four demonstrators were arrested.

Selectmen weren’t buying Huston’s concerns.

The yellow ribbons are a symbol of people’s support of the troops, not the war, said Selectman Michael Thompson.

He made a motion to allow the ribbons to be placed on public property, including trees on the town’s right of way.

The motion was seconded by Selectman Floyd Thayer and passed unanimously.

Head Selectman David Ivey was asked if peace signs could be placed on the public ways, along with ribbons.

His response was to give the peace sign.

– Gail Geraghty

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