ANAHEIM — Marie Mosley sat in the shade of a tree at Pearson Park, crying, mulling over what to tell her youngest son when it was her turn on Thursday to send a 30-second videotaped message to his Marine Corps camp in Saudi Arabia.
When it came time to go before the camera, Mosley and her husband, Charles, stepped up, arm-in-arm, ready to speak from the heart.
"Well, your mom's crying, so let me tell you. . . . We're real proud of you, more proud of you than you'll ever think," Charles Mosely said to his son, 19-year-old Chuck.
Marie Mosley was too choked up to speak. The Moselys, of Santa Ana, received word this week that their only daughter Annette, 25, who is an Army soldier and the mother of two toddlers, was packing her bags to go with the next group of troops to the desert.
"All of this is making me think about a lot of things," Marie Mosley said after the taping. "When we went to Camp Pendleton, there were 3,000 of them shipping out that day, and I looked at them and thought, 'They're just babies.' I've seen the higher-ups do some foolish things in my lifetime, and I hope this isn't one of them. I'm just gonna do my thing as a mom, support them and try and deal with the decisions being made, and try to understand, and pray that all the kids come home."
Dozens of families and friends of loved ones in the military service who have been sent to Saudi Arabia mingled at the park, swapping news, sharing photographs and waiting patiently for their turn to send their message.
KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles sponsored the video mail service and will send the taped messages to the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service for broadcast to the troops. Since only radio broadcasts are being transmitted in the desert, Armed Forces Radio plans to air the audio portions of the message first. If television transmissions can be arranged, the entire message will be broadcast.
KCAL plans to play the videotapes as part of the station's news coverage of the Persian Gulf crisis.
"I think this is wonderful," said Sherry Evans, holding a snapshot of her somber-faced, blue-eyed son, Chris, 20, in Air Force uniform. "We didn't get to say goodby."
Most of the people sending messages were trying to reach 19- and 20-year-old men whom they had not seen or heard from since months before the servicemen were en route to the Middle East.
It had been a year and a half since the Castro family from Pico Rivera had seen their son, Ricky, 20, who had been stationed in the Philippines.
"He was supposed to come home on leave, but the next thing we know. . . ," Art Castro said, before his wife, Helen, interrupted, "he wrote a letter and was telling me, 'Bad news, Mom.' "
The Castros, carrying yellow ribbons, a homemade poster and wearing "God bless my son in the Persian Gulf" T-shirts, delivered an upbeat message to Ricky.
"I thought if I cried--like I always do--that wouldn't be good," said Helen Castro. "We wanted to show him we were happy and we're proud of him, even though he's in danger."
Most people said they expected their sons and friends to be gone at least a year.