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Ginger Matthews sits with her two childern Natatlie, 6, and Derek, 8, has they hold there Daddy Dolls in their Sunbury home. Ginger's husband Cory is currently deployed in Iraq.

SUNBURY — With her husband in Iraq, planning to volunteer for service in Afghanistan as soon as he returns to the Valley in January, and her youngsters missing their father, Ginger Mathews greeted news of a troop buildup with her wholehearted support, unable to hold back tears.

“We need to be the aggressor,” she said, “and root out the problem, deal with it, and bring these guys home.

“Then maybe I won’t have to watch my kids crying every single day. Having their father home to hold, (instead of) carrying 18-inch daddy dolls with his picture pinned on it.”

Mathews, of Sunbury, said the dolls are available online — made to look like the soldier who’s away. Her children, Derek, 8, and Natalie, 6, sleep with them every night and carry them everywhere.

She said she and her husband, Spc. Cory Mathews, a National Guard aviation operations specialist, support the war and the mission to uncover terrorists.

“He and I believe very strongly in what we’re doing over there,” she said.

A military wife and mother, Dina Hughes, of Danville, said she, too, supports the mission and suspected the troop buildup was coming, but she has fears it won’t do much good.

“We overstepped our bounds a long time ago when we stepped into Iraq,” she said. “I think it’s time we have to back out of a civil war.”

Hughes’ husband, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hughes, is with the National Guard’s 109th Field Artillery. He was deployed to Iraq for nine months.

“I have a hard time accepting what’s going on, but he’ll do whatever he’s ordered to do,” she said. “I would never say I don’t support what he does.”

Their son, Austin, 20, is a Navy diver and son Dylan, 23, is with the Air Force National Guard in Harrisburg.

“I would love to see it all be over and we be at peace, but I don’t see that happening soon,” she said.

A Sunbury mother of an active-duty Marine who was part of the surge into south Afghanistan said she fears President Obama’s decision to increase troop strength will “ramp-up how fast (her son) has to go back.”

And no amount of troops will make any difference, she said, “unless they change the rules of engagement.” For instance, she said, they can’t respond to gunfire.

She said she did not wish her name used because it would upset her son. But, she said, Afghanistan should have been taken care of before the United States began the latest Iraq war.

A former Susquehanna and Bloomsburg University professor was far from optimistic Tuesday.

“Having seen the ‘success’ of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, I’m sure, despite Obama’s good intentions, we will not do well,” said former American culture professor Michael Hardin, of Danville.

Hardin said it looks like a no-win scenario. While he can’t see success coming from a troop buildup, simply leaving would create chaos, he said.

“I don’t think we should leave the country in worse shape than we found it,” Hardin said.”

For Obama, he has sympathy.

“I feel really bad for the guy because he has no good option,” he said. “And I feel bad for our serving men and women who have to go over there.”

Ginger Mathews said she is troubled to know that the British and Russians suffered failure in Afghanistan in the past, but said the United States does not have to repeat their mistakes.

“We can learn as much from their failure as anything else,” she said. “And we need to be resolved that the way to resist them (terrorists) is by force — unfortunately.”

n E-mail comments to dianepetryk@dailyitem.com

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