Mother of 8-Year-Old Missing in Action
Mar. 05, 1991
DETROIT (AP) _ Army Staff Sgt. Crystal Rickett's parents didn't want her to enlist. Now they face the task of telling her 8-year-old son that his mother has been reported missing in action.
She is one of two women said to be missing in action in the Persian Gulf War. Army Spc. Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, 20, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was released Monday by Iraq.
Dorothy Rickett, who has been caring for her grandson, Raymond, since her daughter left for Saudi Arabia in December, said he asks sometimes when his mother is coming home.
''Now I don't know what to tell him,'' she said.
Mrs. Rickett said she learned Monday that her daughter was missing. The chaplain and soldier who came to her home had few details, she said.
They told her Rickett was last seen Feb. 26, one day before the cease fire, when her truck became separated from a convoy crossing from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait.
Another woman, Maj. Rhonda Leah Scott Cornum, 36, was one of three people the Army reported missing after a helicopter crash in Iraq on Thursday. Five other members of the 2nd Battalion, 229th Attack Regiment, based at Fort Rucker, Ala., were killed when the helicopter was brought down by anti- aircraft fire while trying to rescue a downed pilot.
Rickett, 31, left her posting at Fort Bliss, Texas to be trained as a chemical operations specialist before being sent to the gulf. Units like her 11th Chemical Company are charged with detecting chemicals used by enemy forces and in operating decontamination facilities.
She has been with the military for 12 years, joining two years out of high school over her parents' protests.
''She knew I didn't want her to go into the Army,'' said her father, Melvin. ''But she was in there before I knew about it.''
''I tried to talk her out it,'' Dorothy Rickett said. ''I just didn't like the idea of a girl being in the Army.''
In her calls from Saudi Arabia, Rickett seemed upbeat and matter-of-fact about the dangers she faced, her mother said.
''When I talked to her, she sounded like being there was a job and she was there to do it,'' Mrs. Rickett said. ''She didn't really seem all that worried about herself. She was proud to be there.
''Her biggest concern was Raymond. She missed him a lot.''
The last letter from Rickett arrived about two weeks ago. It had been written in early February, her mother said.
In it, Rickett praised Raymond for winning a trophy and certificate for his kickball playing at school.
Raymond, whose parents met in the Army and divorced when he was very young, is holding up fairly well, his grandmother said.
''Naturally, he misses her a lot. ... He's sad, but he's holding up well,'' Dorothy Rickett said.
''When they said the war was over, I was so relieved,'' she said. ''Now I have to worry all over again. ... Now all I can do is wait.''