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April 5, 2005

Son home on leave to visit deaf mom; father still in Iraq

From: Great Falls Tribune - Great Falls,MT,USA - Apr 5, 2005

Tribune Projects Editor

Coming home Monday night from patrol in a Humvee in Iraq for two weeks' leave was sweet for Pfc. Ben Braille of the 163rd Infantry Battalion.

It was even sweeter for his mom, Laura Braille (pronounced Bray-LEE).

"Since I'm deaf, I don't get to hear his voice," Laura Braille said through her interpreter, Cheri Frick of Best Interpreting Services of Montana.

Two other Great Falls soldiers — Sgt. Joe Wombolt and Spec. Joshua Nicholson — were also on the plane, returning for two weeks of leave.

Braille and his father, Frank Braille, have been serving together in Iraq since last November. Frank is based near Kirkuk.

"Right now, I'm patrolling most nights, making sure there's nobody out there that's going to be harming our guys or innocent civilians," he said.

When his unit was based near Samarra, they were shot at daily, Braille said.

"But since we left there, it's been about a mortar attack a week," he said.

His father plans to take his leave in December, cutting the last two weeks off his tour of duty to return home early.

Laura Braille said her husband has a regular routine as a supply sergeant so he can e-mail her fairly regularly, but it still has been difficult since he has been her main interpreter.

Her son, Tony, has taken over, but he is a member of the Air National Guard, reporting for basic training in June.

"It's not going to be easy for me as a mother, knowing that my three men are gone," said Laura Braille.

"But I have to be strong because I know they'll be back and things will get back to normal soon," she said.

Reach Tribune Projects Editor Eric Newhouse at 791-1485, (800) 438-6600 or

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