Becky Oberlin has kept vigil with her television since her son, Erik, went to the Persian Gulf with the rest of his Marine Corps reserve unit. She was at home in Salt Lake City watching the news when war in the Persian Gulf started.
She'll never forget where she was or what she was doing when she first heard about Operation Desert Storm."My heart did stop for a moment. I had been hoping for some miracle to happen to stop all this," Oberlin said.
She immediately called Erik's grandparents in France to tell them the war had started. They were asleep but rose to watch President Bush address the world on television.
"They agreed that it was a necessary action. From the point of view of French people, (Saddam) was really quite dangerous," she said. "But nevertheless, they were worried sick about their grandson and the French troops who are there as well.
"It's been quite harrowing. Of course, I'm very frightened. But I also feel afraid for all our young men over there. And I feel sorry for all the innocent Iraqis who have nothing to do with all this craziness that's going on and would like peace as well. That makes me feel bad - the loss of life on both sides."
Gary Boren, a member of the American Fork-based 120th Quartermaster Detachment with the Utah Army National Guard, has been in Saudi Arabia since September and talked to his wife, Sherry, on Saturday. Their conversation over the weekend led Sherry to speculate that her husband waited out the invasion in a bunker.
"I'm sure the guys are probably sitting in a bomb shelter with their gas masks and their guns," she said as the initial strike was still going on.
Just days ago, Gary still believed Saddam Hussein would let the conflict continue until just before the United Nations deadline but would then announce a withdrawal from Kuwait. Now that has not happened, Sherry said she has new hopes and expectations.
"It's almost nice to get something started so they can get it finished," she said. Having the initial strike begin from the skies makes her feel better. "I hope we can take it out in the air and not have a battle on the ground," she said. "I probably feel more peace right now than I have in five months. I really feel it's going to be OK."
Shauna Farmer was still at work when she heard the United States and its allies had bombed Iraq. Her son, Darin, is also a Marine reservist stationed in the gulf.
"I haven't done anything but sit and listen," she said. "Your first impulse is fear and apprehension. I hope they just bomb until they don't have to go in on the ground."
Farmer, also a Salt Lake resident, said she planned to stay up until midnight. If she woke in the night, she would reach for her bedside radio for more news.
And at the Bountiful home of another Marine reservist, Loren and Marilyn Martin said in their own way what the two Salt Lake women had expressed.
The three families share common ground. The Martins' son Thomas is also a member of Erik and Darin's marine reserve unit: Company E, 2nd Light Armored Infantry Battalion (originally Company C, 4th Light Armored Vehicle Battalion), a ground combat unit of about 100 Marines and Corpsmen, stationed at Tooele Army Depot, activated Nov. 24 and sent to Saudi Arabia.
Loren Martin only recently completed a massive research project that he encapsulated in the family Christmas card. The photo of every family member to serve in American military action since the Revolutionary War surrounded a Doctrine & Covenants passage: "Renounce war, proclaim peace. Seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers."
On the front of the card was a photo taken the day Thomas reported to active duty.
"When he was 17, he said he wanted to join the Marine Corps, and we had quite a disagreement," Loren Martin said.
Martin was in the Army Signal Corps during the Vietnam War. He wasn't in Vietnam. "The closest I came was riding an aircraft with (the bodies of) kids in pieces," he said. "I know I'm different than if I had not had that experience."
Family members of activated reservists had already planned to meet at Fort Douglas Wednesday evening and spent a good portion of their time talking about the effects of the bombing raids.
Krystal Pease, a Salt Lake woman who is in a reserve unit and has two brothers serving in Operation Desert Storm, one in a medical detachment, the other in a water purification unit, said she was "really scared" when the air strikes started.
When the bombing began, "I was anxious and I felt like they did the right thing. I think we're doing right by going there. . . . My one brother that volunteered to go, he actively supports everything that's going on over there. And I hope for their safety. I'm scared," Pease said from Fort Douglas.
The gulf conflict changed her marriage plans, she said, because her reserve status might cause a call-up. "I wasn't supposed to get married until the 19th of January, but they set the 15th deadline, so we got married in October."
Elizabeth Winter, Layton, said, "My son is on his way to Saudi Arabia . . . I was surprised that it happened today."
Her son is a member of the Army Reserve's 419th Transportation Company. When the bombing began, "It was scary - the uncertainty." For much of the evening, she was glued to her television set, she added.
One woman from Layton said her husband was "in Saudi" and told the Deseret News her reaction was "shock, basically." Then she began weeping and added, "I can't talk right now."
"My stomach was jumping up and down and I was very nervous, very nervous," said Victoria Brown, Salt Lake City, whose husband, Philip W. Brown, is a sergeant with the 419th Transportation Company.
Another woman at the meeting told those holding the session, "I think you need to understand that our family members who are members of this reserve unit are there for patriotism more than any other reason, and that we as their family members support them and the president of the United States in this action, 100 percent." The comment was greeted with applause from the 90 family members present.
Among problems bothering relatives on the day hostilities began were mix-ups in sending paychecks, computer snags that kept children off insurance rolls, the fact that medical specialists from a hospital unit were spread throughout Europe, and possible extensions of the reservists' terms of service.
"We were promised - I mean promised - that if war broke out no matter what, we would only be serving 180 days," one woman said.
Larene Hobbs, Salt Lake City, who has been married only five months, said her husband is among the reservists sent to Europe. "I felt comforted that he was in Germany, but I felt very sad for those families that had relatives and members in Saudi Arabia that'll be fighting, and for the Iraqi people," she said.
Asked if she thought the fighting would end soon, she said, "I don't know if we can really say that. It looks like it but there are a lot of factors that can change things."
Cortney Allen, 11, Coalville, whose father is in Germany, was asked how she felt about the war starting. "I don't know - it was just weird," she said.