Enterprise High School alumnus Capt. Mark Haines, 29, a Medi-Vac helicopter pilot with the U.S. Army flew out of Colorado Springs, Colo., a week ago Sunday bound for Kuwait.
Haines is in command of a unit of at least 20 air ambulances with the 571st Medical Company, and his unit's Black Hawk helicopters were shipped to the Persian Gulf about a month ago bound for Turkey. The ship carrying the helicopters was then routed to Kuwait, where Capt. Haines and others in his unit were scheduled to meet the helicopters and get them ready for action.
"We haven't heard from our son at all," said Chuck Haines of Enterprise. "We've been anxious, but not too anxious because we knew it would take awhile to get the helicopters ready."
Now, though, he said Mark Haines' unit should be ready to roll, so the anxiety level will probably be rising. Haines said that the Medi-Vac unit is attached to the 4th Division, and according to news reports it is scheduled to start replacing the 3rd Division at the front.
"They don't share information like that," said Chuck Haines when asked how many helicopters and men were involved.
Capt. Mark Haines is a 1992 graduate of Enterprise High School, and specializes in piloting helicopters in high mountain rescue operations. His wife, Ambrosia, is a sergeant in the Army and currently attending advanced aviation maintenance training at Fort Eustus, Va. The couple is normally stationed at Fort Carson and owns a house in Colorado Springs.
According to Chuck Haines, Mark's wife received a one-minute call from Mark saying he was safely in Kuwait this past weekend.
While at Enterprise High School, Haines was a straight-A student involved in sports and other school activites. He graduated as valedictorian of his class. At college, Haines joined ROTC and became an officer.
"It's nervewracking," said Chuck Haines about his son's deployment to the Middle East . He and his wife, Charleen, are "on edge" knowing Mark is or soon will be in the battle zone.
Earlier the soldier tried to reassure his parents by saying that usually wounded soldiers are brought to medical stations behind the front lines, from where he and his men would pick up and transport the casualties.
Haines said that with Iraqi snipers, suicide bombers, soldiers disguised as civilians and other war dangers it's impossible to be too reassured.
"Everyone here has certainly been praying for us and we appreciate it," said Haines, who noted they are also concerned for all the other servicemen and women in the war zone. "They've done a remarkable job keeping the causalties and collateral damage down, considering everything," he said.
Another Enterprise couple, Joe and Vickie Neveau, was elated Saturday when they received a letter dated March 22, just a couple days after the war in Iraq began, from their son, First Lieutenant Charles Neveau, who was deployed to Kuwait several weeks ago. He has been trained as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
"It was a real mood elevator," said Vickie Neveau. When he wrote the letter he was on the ground, rather than in the air, working as a movement officer in Kuwait. He told his parents he was waiting for a shipment at the Gulf, and his assigned job was "not by choice."
"I'm sure he'd rather be flying, but we are relieved," said Neveau. "He is happy that he has a brand-new Land Cruiser assigned to him."