Organic Matter: Worries for military nephew

While as outraged as any other American by the terrorist attacks of Sept.

11, I am fortunate in one respect.

I did not know anyone aboard the four jetliners that crashed, nor anyone working or visiting the World Trade Center, nor anyone in the Pentagon.

The tragedies did not touch me in a personal sense.

But my anxiety level has risen with the prospect of war on the horizon for the battle against terrorism will hit close to home soon I fear.

My nephew, Scott Organ, is a naval aviator with the rank of lieutenant commander.

He is a member of a fighter squadron based in Virginia, which currently is deployed aboard the USS Enterprise.

The Enterprise sailed for the Persian Gulf in April on a scheduled six-moth deployment, in part to help enforce the no-fly zone over Iraq.

Another carrier battle group was to relieve the Enterprise last week, freeing it to return home with a projected arrival date back in Norfolk of Oct.

26.

That is three days before Scott's birthday.

But Scott's reunion with his wife, Cathy, and three children was put on hold indefinitely by events of Sept.

11.

He likely will spend at least part of his birthday in the cockpit of a Hornet fighter.

A recent letter I received from Scott's mother, who said he was somewhere in the Indian Ocean at the time of her last contact with him.

War is coming and Scott is going to be out there in the middle of it, she said.

News reports Friday stated the Enterprise was in the Arabian Sea.

Cathy also wrote and said she is busy home schooling her two oldest children, who have no comprehension of time and don't understand their father already is away five months.

"After five months you are prepared for the return," Cathy said.

"You have the date within sight and feel as though you can pass 4 to 5 more weeks standing on your head.

"Getting the news that the return will be delayed for an undetermined period of time seriously deflates the feeling of elation.

It's hard not being able to pinpoint a date when I'll see Scott again."

I have thought of the possibility that Scott could be shot down during any military strike on Afghanistan.

I have to ask myself other questions if that happens.

Would it be better if he were to die in his plane or safely parachute to the ground to be captured by the Taliban? Would they execute Scott or use him as a shield, warning he would be executed if the air strikes were to continue?

Would Scott be permitted a visit by representatives of the Red Cross to verify he is given humane treatment while a prisoner?

What could President George W.

Bush do if Scott is taken prisoner (or any other American pilot for that matter)?

Very little I suspect.

The pressure must be kept up on Afghanistan until the terrorist element in that country is neutralized.

We then must turn our attention to Iraq, Libya and other countries that shelter terrorists and sponsor terrorism.

The war to eradicate these evildoers likely will go on for years and not months I am afraid.

It will lead to a terrible cost in casualties among our military personnel.

But we must bear the cost if we are to avoid any future days like Sept.

11.

The current location of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is not known.

He has a sizable network of caves in which to hide in Afghanistan.

If he has fled that country where is he now hiding and how long will it be before he rears his head to launch another attack upon freedom?

Something as troubling to me as terrorism is our nation's reluctance to respond to it.

The attacks here happened nearly three weeks ago and our armed forces are now positioned after Bush told the military to "Be ready."

But a high-ranking military officer Thursday appeared on television and said military action is one component of the war on terrorism.

The word "sanctions" came up as he spoke and I cringed.

A "crawl" across the bottom of the screen indicated military action must take a back seat to intelligence gathering.

How long will that go on, even though I realize it is necessary to properly identify targets worth attacking.

Sanctions were imposed on Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

The military of that country still has managed to get supplies necessary to function while the civilian populace bears the sting of sanctions.

They do not produce the desired result and hurt the innocent.

Are we going to leave our military personnel in a spot that amounts to no more than flexing our muscles for the Taliban and others to see while our leaders escalate the rhetoric? What about it Mr.

Bush?