A California congresswoman, citing the needs of children, is urging the Pentagon to exempt single military parents and one parent of a military couple from duty in the gulf.

Rep. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a letter Wednesday to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney that the same principles that won him a deferral from service during the Vietnam War should apply now."Just as your child needed you, so do the children of these military parents need at least one of them out of harm's way," she said.

"I again appeal to you, on behalf of the innocent children of our military parents serving in the Persian Gulf, to think back on your own experience and reconsider your decision."

Selective Service System records show Cheney received a 3-A classification deferral from service in the armed forces on Jan. 19, 1966, Boxer said. She said the records showed the classification was granted for those "with a child or children; or registrant deferred by reason of extreme hardship to dependents."

"In other words, you were exempted from military service because you were the support of your family and obviously felt that your wife and soon-to-be-born child needed you," Boxer said.

Cheney, along with Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said he opposes an exemption for parents.

Cheney said all members of the armed services were volunteers and "freely assumed the duty and obligation to place themselves in harm's way when called upon to do so." Single parents and military couples are required to maintain a family care plan so their children are cared for if the parents are deployed, he said.