The Deseret News traveled as far as Saudi Arabia to cover the gulf war and document the involvement of Utah troops.
But newspaper staffers had to go no farther than the newsroom to see the effects the war has had on the anxious parents of Desert Storm troops.City Desk secretary Karen Greenwood watched every incoming report about troop activations early in the military buildup because of the chances her son, Travis Suazo, might be called-up with his Marine Reserve company in Tooele. The anxiety of wondering broke and new concerns emerged as the Marine company was called to active duty Nov. 24 and then sent to Saudi Arabia three days after Christmas.
She had no idea where Travis was when the ground offensive began - and when the paper received the first reports of Marine casualties, including one from Utah.
Concerns about poison gas attacks and other threats to Travis' life seemed to grow fewer as the brief ground campaign came and went with little resistance. But his letters home spoke of working and sleeping inside his light armored vehicle and finding it hard to breathe air that was laden with the smoke of the Kuwaiti oil-well fires that left the exterior of their vehicles so slippery they were hard to climb in and out of.
Karen wore a large button to work each day that has Travis' picture on it. Her desk has more Marine pictures than you'll find in a recruiter's office.
Updates about Travis' whereabouts have been common on the computer message system Deseret News staff members use to communicate with each other. Tuesday, she sent the message she had been waiting four months to write: "Tomorrow I get to take Secretaries Day off to pick up my young Marine."
Executive Sports Editor John Robinson's son, Dan, is a member of the Utah Army National Guard's 1457th Engineer Battalion. Dan was also waiting for an LDS Church mission assignment during the allied military buildup last fall.
John had to take only two or three steps from his desk to look over the shoulder of the Deseret News' two principal military reporters to see if the latest news release gave any clues about whether he would be writing letters to a missionary or a soldier.
If the mission date came first, Dan would be exempt from military service. If 1457th was activated first, and the mission, scheduled to begin in February, would have to wait. (Dan was called to the Switzerland Zurich Mission.)
Dan and the 700-plus members of the 1457th got their calls to duty Jan. 25 and left for Germany Feb. 11 where they remain while waiting an announcement about coming home.
Being in the newsroom didn't always afford John the first news about the 1457th's whereabouts as news almost always traveled the fastest through a network of family members while official announcements trailed behind.