Mother and son, repeat life choice

Published 11:08 am Friday, November 9, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Cindy Rice first joined the United States Army in 1974. Not long after, she joined the National Guard.
"It's something I liked to do and actually me joining the services started as a bet between my husband and I. I don't really want to go into full detail, but we'll just say I ended up joining the services," Cindy said.
Cindy, who served as a Staff Sgt., was in charge of getting all of the mail to the troops.
"It was scary, even though my job was with the postal unit, I was scared," she said of her time.
"It was so hard leaving him. It was hard just being a parent being away from your child. There was a picture taken of him and I before I left for Dessert Storm. A picture says a thousand words," Cindy said as she pointed to a picture published in a book of her and her son crying in each other's arms.
Rice spent 23 years in the service. On her son's 10th birthday – Oct. 21, 1990 – her unit pulled out of Dessert Storm and she returned home.
No one would have known that a picture almost identical would be taken around 15 years later, this time, with the role of mother and son reversed. This time, it was Nicholas' turn to serve his country in the United States Army.
"Nicholas always wanted to join the army, even at a young age. When he was 17 he wanted to join, but I wouldn't sign for him. I didn't feel that he was ready yet and I wanted him to be sure that this was what he wanted to do," Cindy explained.
When Nicholas turned 18, braces forced his dream of entering the Army to be put on hold again.
"That was alright with me because I didn't want him to go then either," Cindy said.
But when Nicholas turned 22, he joined and now, at 27 he is part of the National Guard. Nicholas is currently stationed at Camp Liberty in Iraq where he has been for four months.
"I'm very proud of him for wanting to do this. It is scary, especially since he is my only child and I do worry about him, but I am very proud of him. We can relate on so many levels and I know what he is going through," Cindy said.
Her husband and Nicholas' father, David, on the other hand, has not had an easy time, according to Cindy.
"He got hit with a double whammy – first with me, now with his son. He is proud of him, but I know he doesn't understand a lot of things like I do," Cindy said.
Nicholas is a 1999 graduate of Brandywine High School. Cindy and David are both 1973 graduates of Niles High School.
"Our family is very patriotic. The whole family sends care packages to Nicholas and his battle buddies and they really appreciate it," Cindy said.
While she admitted they are excited for his arrival home, Cindy said she is not sure when that's going to be.
"We know he's over there doing a good thing. It helps that I know what he's going through, not only as a mother, but as a soldier too," she added.