- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2003

LINTHICUM, Md. — Spec. Angel Rosario was at home on two weeks’ R&R; when he heard that members of the 4th Infantry Division had captured Saddam Hussein.

Spec. Rosario, 24, is a member of a military police company with the 4th Infantry Division and is stationed at Tikrit, Iraq, near where Saddam was captured.

“Man, I went wild,” Spec. Rosario said yesterday. “I was cheering. I was dancing. I was waving my arms. It was a very proud moment for the Four-I-D. But then, when my family asked, ‘You don’t still have to go back, do you?’ I had to tell them — the capture of Hussein really doesn’t change anything. We have a mission to do and we’ll have to be there until it’s over.”

Spec. Rosario’s melancholy trip back to the war zone was lightened a little at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Volunteers with Chimes, the nonprofit service organization for the disabled, served free Christmas dinner to members of the armed forces and their families.

“This is an all-volunteer effort — all the food, all the work, everything was donated by somebody,” said Albert Bussone, vice president and chief operating officer of the Baltimore-based organization.

Expecting to serve about 500 people, Chimes gathered more than 100 pounds of turkey, 100 pounds of ham, 80 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of green beans, 600 dinner rolls, 60 pies and 15 gallons of nonalcoholic eggnog.

More than 100 volunteers signed up to serve over the course of the day. Nextel phones also were provided to allow servicemen and women to phone home for one last goodbye.

Chimes provides custodial workers for the airport.

“People usually think of people serving the disabled; this is a case of the disabled serving people,” said Margaret Wisnom, director of development for Chimes.

BWI has been a major way station for soldiers since late September, when the military launched its largest R&R; rotation program since the Vietnam War.

Already a major military gateway for troops stationed overseas, the airport just south of Baltimore now handles two such flights a day — one arriving and one departing.

Spec. Jose Burgos of Fredericksburg, Va., was walking through the bustling airport with his parents, Jose Sr. and Ruth Burgos, when they happened upon the dinner.

“This gives us a little more time,” said Spec. Burgos, 25, who also serves with the 4th Infantry Division.

It also gave them time to share some lighthearted moments.

When Spec. Burgos first went to fight in Iraq nine months ago, he told his father, “I’m going to finish what you started.”

Jose Sr. fought in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

“I guess it’s true,” he said with a laugh. “I’m very proud of him.”

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