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Mother of two GIs plays waiting game

   CAMPTI - This the second time within a year Lola Wood has paced the floor on sleepless nights and confined herself to the house waiting for that one important phone call and the latest newscast. "
   And, again, she fights to hold back the tears. For this is the second time that her son, PFC Robert J. VandeGevel, has been thrown into the breach of foreign hostility with only a few weeks rest between Panama and the Persian Gulf.
   "I'm hoping he comes back," Lola's voice quivered as she stared out the kitchen window of her Campti home. The laughter of two young granddaughters in the next room didn't stop the tears. "I can't help but feel he won't be so lucky this time."
   In June, the 20-year-old private returned from a tour of duty in Panama. Panama. As a member of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 508th Infantry, he participated in the massive fire-fight that captured La Comandancia in the December invasion. Two of his fellow soldiers were killed in that action and six were wounded.
   Upon returning stateside, VandeGevel was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 504th Infantry at Fort Bragg, N.C. The private was back at his Campti home for only three days when he received orders to return to Fort Bragg and prepare to ship out with his unit.
   "The second time doesn't make it any easier," Mrs. Wood said. "But I have my husband and a lot of good friends to help me along."

 The last line of communication was a letter from VandeGevel two week's ago before his Bravo Company was deployed to the Persian Gulf along with 50,000 other U.S. troops.
   "He was to the point as to what may happen, telling us about certain insurance policies," she said.; "He said, 'As I write this we all know; my number may come up. But this is my job and I've been well trained for it.' "
   Lola says she constantly keeps the television on and relies on her husband, William, to guard her from the rumors of panic. But her anxieties do not lie with just one son. VandeGevel's older brother, Richard VandeGevel, is presently in a standby status with his U.S. Army division in Fort Carson, Colo., and a brother-in-law  brother-in-law is with the Louisiana National Guard, which could be activated. 
   "I checked with the State Department to see if they would allow two sons into a war zone," she said. "But they're not calling it a war zone yet."
   William Wood remembers VandeGevel's last three days at home before he had to return to Fort Bragg. Business billboards and church bulletins welcomed the soldier back for the short-lived furlough.
   "He loves to clown around. He would try to make me laugh. At one point he walked out of his room with a sheet fashioned around his head. He said I had to see what it is like just in case I had to switch sides." " Lola added: "I know my son is not afraid. "He has seen more at the age of 20 than most men see in a lifetime. It's his job and he does it well. Some guys don't have the training he has.
   "He had tears, but I think it was because he was leaving home."

[The Times, Shreveport, LA) 22 August 1990, Wed. Main Edition, Page 3]


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