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Coping With Son’s Death, Father Wishes It’s Not for Naught

June 2, 1995

PARIS (AP) _ ``I hope he didn’t die for nothing,″ Patrick Humblot said Friday after burying his youngest son, 18-year-old Jacky, killed last weekend in a firefight with the Serbs in Bosnia.

His voice sad and weak, the devastated father still thinks that if Jacky’s comrades were pulled out of Bosnia, ``you would save the French, but you wouldn’t save the people who would be massacred.

``If they leave, it’ll be genocide,″ he said in a telephone interview from his home in the southwestern city of Angouleme, after a quiet burial service attended by 600 townspeople and family members.

The elder Humblot’s agony _ and his defiant desire for France to remain in Bosnia _ personifies his country’s struggle over its role in a complicated civil war while its sons die wearing the blue helmets of U.N. peacekeeping troops.

At a meeting of 14 NATO and European defense ministers in Paris on Saturday, France was to seek agreement on firming up the peacekeeping troops with a rapid deployment force.

The meeting has taken on more urgency after Jacky and his comrade, Marcel Amaru, died while they and other French troops last Saturday took back an observation post seized by Serb fighters.

Jacky’s death was not for naught ``if it can only serve for others, that the other troops get more protection,″ said Humblot, a 44-year-old dental technician.

Jacky Humblot was only on the 12th day of a three-month stint he volunteered for with his buddies, his father said.

In the last father-son talk before he left France, Jacky said he was ``glad to go, but he was afraid. He saw on TV that other soldiers were killed.

``He had a spirit of service, to be together with his buddies, and he liked to move around,″ Humblot said. ``I was worried, but I thought, it can’t happen to him. There are hundreds of French troops out there.″

``Waiting for the body, that was the most painful time,″ he said. ``The Serbs were blocking it at the airport.″

French forces eventually evacuated the bodies of Humblot and Amaru by land.

``I was at least relieved he could be buried where he was born,″ Humblot, who has three other children.

``Unfortunately our sons must go, and face the evil of men,″ he said. ``They are the blue helmets of peace, to help a people that hates themselves, to put themselves back together.″

In the wake of NATO airstrikes, hundreds of other U.N. troops were taken hostage by the Serbs and some were chained to potential airstrike targets.

Humblot met some of the hostages’ families at a military ceremony for his son Thursday.

``You see the worry on their faces, the anxiety, the fear,″ he said. ``You never feel that until you’ve been through it.″

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