- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

DALLAS, March 27 (UPI) — A young Texas mother says her husband aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt might not receive the gift she sent by his birthday, which was Thursday, but she plans to also send along "a big old e-mail" to back it up.

"He wants me to charge up the phone card but the funds aren't available for me to do that right now so I'll just send him a big old e-mail and I'm hoping the package I sent him will get there by his birthday," said Martha Twombly.

Her husband, William, is the hazardous materials supervisor for VFA-201, a Naval Reserve Squadron of F/A-18 Hornet attack fighters based on the carrier. He turns 33 Thursday.

Twombly chats almost daily with her husband because of the Internet, a popular new means for families to stay in touch with those in the military.

"It's not the same as a phone call or a letter that you can read over and over again," she said, but the instantaneous nature is an advantage.

Twombly is command family liaison for VFA-201, which is the first Naval Reserve squadron called up since the Korean War. The more than 200 reservists are based at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas.

Twombly uses the Internet to stay in touch with family members, about two-thirds of whom have computer access. She works to straighten out problems with pay and other issues and e-mail helps solve those problems more quickly.

VFA-201 has received high marks aboard the Roosevelt, she said, which makes her proud of the entire unit. She doesn't know the location of the carrier in the war zone or what kind of missions the Hornets are flying.

Twombly doesn't watch much of the war coverage on television.

"I try to stay away from it as much as possible," she said. "I just don't want to be so absorbed by it. With my husband gone, I live it every day."

Twombly, who was in the navy reserve herself for eight years, is busy raising a 17-month-old boy and attending Tarrant County College. She and her husband have been married a year and a half.

"It gets kind of frustrating, kind of overwhelming," she said.

"I try to keep it in perspective. Raising my son by myself is not something I set out to do but it comes with the territory. I've said sometimes I didn't sign up for this, but in a sense I did when he and I got married."

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