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Her thoughts are on Dad in Iraq

This high-achieving 10-year-old focuses on her activities until the day her family can be together again.

August 20, 2004|Michael Ordona | Times Staff Writer

Madison Holcomb has an awful lot on her resume already: class president, treasurer and "supreme judge" of her class' disciplinary court (the last two simultaneously); a 4.0 GPA last year; member of her school's swim team; fourth-year Girl Scout and active in a community group that pairs volunteers with the elderly for service and companionship.

Naturally, this articulate 10-year-old from Twentynine Palms wants to become the first woman president of the United States.

"I'd like to have no taxes," she says, "and I would have everybody equal. Everyone would have money, even the poor people."

This summer was shaping up like any other, including a trip to the Girl Scouts' Camp Azalea Trails near Idyllwild (thanks to the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Campaign). But there's something very different this year: Staff Sgt. David Holcomb, her father, golf buddy and "other" swim coach, is in the midst of a 14-month deployment to Iraq.

He's been gone for 147 days, says his wife, Michaela. He'll be home next April, but for now he's back for two precious weeks. This is the first time that Holcomb has been deployed. Michaela says, "Other families in the 7th Marines know how to deal with it better because they've done it before. If the kids don't hear from him for a while, they worry. We wait for the next phone call."

"If we haven't had dinner but he says he's going to call at a certain time, then we hurry home from practice," Madison says. "When I got 100 on my tests I'd send them off to him so he could hang them in his room."

Holcomb's unit is in Al Anbar province, about 100 miles west of Baghdad.

"Our area's relatively quiet," he says, explaining that the situation has improved. "When we first got there, we took rockets, mortar rounds."

Michaela limits Madison's exposure to the news. "I have to be extremely open with her," she says. "I'd prefer for her to be able to ask questions of us."

Jessica Lawrence, fund development associate at Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council, says that Madison was an outstanding candidate for a campership because of the leadership she has shown but also because of Holcomb's deployment.

"We knew that Madison would want a special experience this summer, a chance for her to get away and explore things," Lawrence says. "She's such a bright and spirited young woman, interested in learning about things. She's a perfect person to go to camp."

About 11,000 children will go to camp this summer, thanks to $1.6 million raised last year.

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