War Ages A Roguish Son

SGT. MARQUETTE WHITESIDE, 24

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Jeffrey Allen / AFP / Getty

Iraqi army soldiers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft that will take them to the southern city of Basra to join an offensive against Shi'ite militias.

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On weekends Catherine takes care of Brashawn, Marquette's 6-year-old daughter by an ex-girlfriend. Catherine and her granddaughter wrestle and play hide-and-seek, watch videos and go shopping. It's all very normal, says Catherine, except for the part where they e-mail Marquette to tell him to stay safe. There's an awkward silence, then she starts thumbing through the album again. She had looked forward to her son's coming home permanently, and now she will have two in harm's way. "I thought it was over." she says. "All over." --By Cathy Booth Thomas/Pine Bluff

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