Two East Texans Serve on Lead Aircraft Carrier

Gayle and Melvin Cazalas' son, Melton graduated from Gilmer High School. Now, he works on the nuclear reactors which power the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln's engines on the other side of the world.

"I went out and bought a globe so that I can find exactly where the Persian Gulf is, and the ports that he sees and look how far they are from us," says Gayle in her Upshur County home. "It's a big world, I think. I don't think it's made it smaller because he seems really far from home."

Carl Taylor knows where the Persian Gulf is. He was there as a flight engineer in the Airforce during the Gulf War. His son, Marcus, a Longview High School graduate is aboard the same ship as Melton Cazalas. "I never thought that my son would be back over there basically 10 years later doing the same thing basically I was doing 10 years ago when I was over there in '91."

While Melton and Marcus both serve on the same ship, they have not met each other yet. Back home, their families are coping with similar hopes and fears.

"My wife gets mad at me because he'll call, and I won't talk to him because it hurts me." says Carl. "I can tell in his voice he's worried and it makes him more homesick when he hears a voice."

Gayle would like to hear the phone ring more often. "We don't get phone calls very often. And, we watch the news a whole lot."

Carl agrees, "I stay glued to the TV a lot. We've got four TV's in the house and one of those TV's is on the news channel 24 hours a day."

Both families say e-mail is the best way to stay in touch. "We have e-mail here, and I have e-mail at work. So I check it throughout the day, throughout the night. The time difference, so you never know when you're going to get one."

"I can't sleep. I get up and get on the e-mail, and he'll write me back," says Carl. "It's just comforting to know, 'Are you all right?' 'I'm fine.'"

With the threat of war building in the Gulf again, anxiety is building back home. Gayle says sometimes words of comfort aren't all that comforting. "People are always telling me he's at the safest place he can be. He's on an aircraft carrier and they are so well guarded. They're well guarded because they're gong to be one of the first targets... I got this pin from a friend after 9/11. And, when my son's ship left port this time, I tied this yellow ribbon on. This ribbon will stay tied until he's home."

On the Home Front, Stephen Parr, reporting.