Danville family anxiously awaits return of Guardsman

July 06, 2004|JULIE McGLOTHLIN

For the Rogers family, the war in Iraq hits close to home.

Barry Rogers, of Danville, has been stationed in Kuwait since January. As a sergeant in the National Guard, he is serving with the Richmond based 2123 Transportation Unit. His deployment may last anywhere from a year to 18 months.

His unit is responsible for ferrying fuel, supplies and equipment from Kuwait to the troops fighting in Iraq. Rogers is both a truck driver and armed guard, alternating with other soldiers as they travel.

Father's Day was a less than merry day for Rogers. While traveling with a 50-truck convoy transporting heavy equipment between Kuwait and Baghdad, the truck he was traveling in drove over a bomb hidden on the roadway.


The explosion threw Rogers to the back of the truck and shrapnel struck his side and arm.

The front of the vehicle was heavily damaged and the windows were blown out. Fearing an ambush, they kept moving after the bomb detonated, despite the damage to the vehicle and the injuries Rogers and the driver had sustained. Thankfully, the truck kept running until they were right inside the gate of their destination.

The attack came as they were returning to their base. If the truck had struck the bomb on the way to Baghdad when the vehicle was loaded with fuel, "they probably would have been killed," says Lisa Hogue, Rogers' sister-in-law.

Rogers taken to Kuwait for treatment

Rogers was taken back to Kuwait for treatment and he will remain on active duty.

The wives of the National Guard division have formed a sort of support group, and they were the ones to bring news of Rogers' injury to his wife, Roxanna Rogers, and his daughter, Maegan, 14.

After he was injured, Maegan was only reassured that Rogers was okay when she heard his voice on the telephone. She is worried that he might be wounded again. "It's really scary," she says.

"It sounds bad, but we were hoping when he was injured that it would be bad enough to send him home," says Hogue.

"I just worry about him constantly. He's such a big part of Maegan's life. If something were to happen to him, she'd be devastated," says Hogue. "She spends a lot of time here with us. When her dad's here, she spends a lot of time hanging out with him on the weekends, so she's kind of bored now."

Once a week, Rogers calls home to talk to his family. While he does not say much to Maegan about the realities of war, he does tell her about the country and the different way of life. Maegan says most of all "he talks about the heat." One day it was 120 degrees with a heat index of 160 degrees.

He sent her pictures of the countryside, typical Iraqi homes, refugees walking along the road, and herds of camels as well as snapshots of himself. He has also sent her some Iraqi money. The bills have pictures of Saddam Hussein featured prominently, while the coins are square or scalloped.

Construction of new home disrupted

In addition to being stationed far from his family, Rogers' deployment disrupted the construction of his new home.

When he was called up, he was in the process of building a house in Casey County. And, according to Hogue, he was "doing every bit of it by himself." To preserve the integrity of the structure until he could come home and complete the house, they had to roof the building before he shipped out.

"Lots of family and friends pitched in," says Hogue. "He rushed to get it under roof."

Now, the house sits half finished, with an American flag hanging on the fence to honor the now absent builder.

When he is not serving on active duty with the National Guard, Rogers is an electrician. Normally, he does the lighting and wiring in large chain restaurants such as Applebee's.

He is a high energy person, who is constantly doing something, from working on his new house to landscaping to spending time with his daughter. His sister-in-law describes him as "really comical, always joking and cutting up."

Maegan is ready for the war to be over. "I don't really think that (the war) should be going on," she says. She hopes that things will change after the elections in November.

Hogue says, "I don't know how many times she's said I can't wait for my dad to get home."

Rogers is scheduled for leave in August. His wife and daughter as well as parents Violet Rogers of Danville and Paul Rogers of McKinney are waiting anxiously to see him again.

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