DEAR ABBY: In response to "Mom or Not," who debated whether to start a family before her husband leaves for combat duty in the Persian Gulf:

My Air Force husband and I made that decision on our wedding night in 1942. He didn't want me to be burdened with a child if the worst should occur. I told him I wanted a part of him - a child of his - in case he didn't return.Two months and two days later, his bomber exploded in midair, and all 10 of his crew were killed instantly. Eight months later our baby girl was born. She is her father's daughter. When I look at her beautiful face, I see him. She is everything her father was - smart, well-liked and successful. She is now happily married and is everything a mother hopes her child will be.

Knowing that I was carrying his child sustained me during the months after his death. Single parenthood was never a burden for me. His military pension was adequate. I later married a fine man who accepted my daughter unconditionally, and gave me three more children who love and look up to their older sister.

Never, for one minute, have I regretted our decision. For me, it was an easy choice. - DOROTHY J. BURKE, WHITTIER, CALIF.

DEAR DOROTHY: Read on for more letters from readers who had to make that decision:

DEAR ABBY: Claude and I were married during World War II. We both knew that he might have to go to war. We had gone together for four years and were very much in love. I wanted a baby in case he got shipped overseas. He said no; it would be too hard for me if he never came home. (I won.) I had my baby alone while he was in England waiting to be shipped to Germany.

When our baby girl was 2 months old, I got word that Claude was missing in action! I was devastated, but thanked God I had a part of him. I later got word that Claude was a prisoner of war in Germany. We were lucky - he survived to return home after the liberation. We had two more children, and hope to celebrate our 50th anniversary next year. It wasn't easy, but I wouldn't change a thing. - PAT FROM WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Mom or Not" tugged at my heartstrings and brought back memories of World War II. We were newly married, my husband was an aviation cadet, and we faced the same quandary - should we have a baby or not with all the uncertainties of war. We resolved it intelligently - by writing on paper all the pros and cons of having a child. The cons won hands down, so we tore up the paper and did what we both wanted to do. I got pregnant, and we've never regretted it. Sign me . . . CONTENTED GRANDMA IN LA JOLLA

DEAR ABBY: This is for "Mom or Not," who was debating about whether she and her husband should have a baby, knowing that he'd be going to serve in the Persian Gulf and might not return: Her husband should investigate the local sperm banks and consider making a deposit before he leaves. And should he not return, she'd have the choice of bearing his child. That's what I did. Sign me . . . FARSIGHTED IN SACRAMENTO

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