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Troops’ Wives Report Elation Over Capture

December 15, 2003

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) _ Roxanne Fuss didn’t get her usual late-night weekend call from her soldier-husband in Iraq. No message on her answering machine. No e-mail.

``I thought, ’Well, that’s OK. He’s busy,‴ she recalled Monday.

Most definitely.

Within hours, she learned what Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Fuss and his fellow soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood had been doing.

About 600 4th Infantry and Special Forces soldiers had found former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during a raid at a farmhouse outside Tikrit.

When Roxanne Fuss finally heard from her husband Sunday morning, he told her: ``What a great day for the division.″

Helen Pompelia said her husband, Lt. Col. Dominic Pompelia, told her the troops were excited. ``Adrenaline was really flowing. They were really ‘stoked’ I believe was the word,″ she said.

A network of Fort Hood military wives scrambled early Sunday to tell one another and their relatives of the soldiers’ big moment.

``A great Christmas present,″ said Ann Campbell, wife of Col. Donald Campbell, 4th Infantry Division chief of staff.

The soldiers are scheduled to remain in Iraq until April, and the capture of Saddam helps lift their mood at holiday time, said Dawn Starkey, wife of Lt. Col. Rick Starkey.

``This is the reason they went over _ to capture the rat,″ she said.

Usually, when Staff Sgt. Joey Wommack calls his wife from Iraq, he sounds tired, like he’s about to collapse from exhaustion. This time, he told her he hadn’t slept in 48 hours, but his voice betrayed no sign of fatigue.

``It was just like he had won the lottery or something,″ Kelly Wommack said Monday in a telephone interview from her Killeen, Texas, home.

Joey Wommack got a clear view of the bearded, disheveled Saddam through the scope on his rifle, his wife said.

``He said it was just surreal,″ Kelly Wommack said. ``It wasn’t until the day after that it hit him that, ‘Oh, my God, we got him.’

``I was just ecstatic for him,″ she said. ``I don’t know how you can top your career (after this). He’s on Cloud Nine.″

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