Community prays for troops

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; As dusk turned to dark Saturday, about 100 people gathered on the river bluff to read aloud the names of Miss-Lou area servicemen and women overseas.

They prayed for the safe return of their loved ones.

They lit candles to show their support for our troops.

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And through those gestures, they comforted each other.

&uot;They are not just soldiers or marines or airmen &045; they are our people,&uot; said Sharon Goodrich, who organized the service with help from the Miss-Lou Military Family Support Group.

Ferriday, La., residents Maxine Duncan and Marian Melancon both have sons &045; Francis L. Duncan and Walter Melancon Jr. &045; who were deployed to Iraq with the 1086th Transportation Unit from Fort Polk three weeks ago. Now, they are about 40 miles from Baghdad.

&uot;They are good buddies, and they are still together over there,&uot; said Melancon, who last heard from Walter on Wednesday.

&uot;He was in good spirits. He told me not to worry, but I do. I can’t stand to watch the news,&uot; she said.

Duncan received a call from Francis on Tuesday. &uot;He asked us not to forget to pray, and said he loves us,&uot; she said.

Jessica Prudhomme’s husband, Gary, is with the Third Infantry Division in Baghdad. She gets news from abroad through the Family Readiness Group at Fort Benning, Ga.

&uot;A sergeant out of his unit called today.

The packages we sent have not caught up with them yet, but they should get them up from Kuwait soon,&uot; said Prudhomme.

&uot;Gary has five or six packages waiting for him.&uot;

Prudhomme’s father-in-law, Sammy Taunton, took a turn reading names. After the roll was called, several people in the crowd called out other names that were not on the prepared list.

In his invocation, the Rev. Don Slater &045; himself a Vietnam veteran &045; honored the courage and sacrifice of Cpl. Henry Brown, a 22 year-old Natchez native who was killed in action near Baghdad last week.

&uot;Just a few short days ago, he made the supreme sacrifice,&uot; said Slater, adding that those who remain still need our support.

&uot;They all need our prayers &045; until the last one comes home and they are all accounted for.&uot;