Families brace for possibility of deployment
Young man from Linwood area participate in various stages of U.S. military training
It's what happens next that most worries the families of four native sons of Linwood.
Currently, four young men -- Allen Schelert, Brice Beshara, John Twist and Derek Mueller -- from the small city in southern Leavenworth County are in various stage of military training. While their destination after they complete training is unknown, the boys have told family members of an area possible, perhaps even likely, for deployment.
Schelert, Beshara and Twist are cousins and Mueller, though not a blood relative, is practically part of the family, relatives said.
For the mothers of the four boys, feelings of their sons' sacrifices ring with equal elements of pride and fear. Pride for the dedication and sacrifice they've made to protecting America and fear about what that sacrifice might cost.
"He's been told he's got a 50-50 chance," said Rita Schelert, whose son, Allen, is in the Marine Corps reserve and is training in Texas to become an ammunitions technician. "From the time he left for boot camp, we started to worry. I don't even watch the news anymore."
A lot of pride
Marlene Robinette, whose son, Brice Beshara, is at Marine Corps boot camp with another Linwood man, Derek Mueller, chokes up when asked about her son's potential deployment to the Middle East. Beshara and Mueller requested and received permission to train together.
"I'm being a lot stronger than I am right now," Robinette said, emotion ringing in her voice. "We have our days when there are tears. I'm worried but I have a lot of pride in what my son decided to do with his life."
The thought of a child heading to a war zone is perhaps toughest of all for Rhonda Robinette, who's only child, John Twist, is training to become part of the 82nd Airborne.
"He's my only child, that's it," Rhonda said. "It's very, very stressful. My son has never been away from me, ever. We're close. I'm proud as hell of him, but I'm also selfish, too."
Faith sustains her
Kerry Mueller, whose son, Derek, is training to become a Marine mechanic, said her worries are tempered by faith and knowledge that her son is helping to protect freedom.
"We have peace with this because we know God is going to take care of them," Mueller said.
The path each boy has taken into the military is different, though one trait unites them, family members said. They're all doing exactly what they want to, something each believes is necessary and right for sustaining America's freedoms.
Allen Schelert, 23, has placed a career as a construction superintendent on hold to serve in the military.
He was in his second year of apprenticeship with the general contracting company, Bowden Construction, before choosing to enlist.
Schelert is the oldest of three children, and his entry into the military has been particularly rough for his younger siblings -- his sister, Amanda, and his brother, Adam.
"(They're) completely tore up because of him being gone," Rita Schelert said.
"He wants to go. He wants to serve. He said if he has to die he wants to die for his country."
A feeling of pride
Beshara, a 2004 graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School, signed up for the military when he was 17.
"He was pretty set on what he wanted to do," Marlene Robinette said of her son, adding that she feels pride in knowing "he's decided to serve our country in a very brave way."
John Twist has been talking about joining the military since he was a boy, said his mother, Rhonda Twist.
He'll celebrate his 19th birthday in boot camp, she said.
Mueller, whose father was an Airborne Ranger in Vietnam and grandfather a two-time recipient of the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service during the Korean War, enlisted because he believes young men should at least serve two years in some form of the military.
Mueller's delayed attending classes at a Wyoming technical school so he could serve in the military.
"He said he'd regret it for the rest of his entire life if he didn't do it," Kerry Mueller said.
Strong support system
The boys and their families have a support system built in back home so everyone can stay informed of what's happening during training. Rhonda Robinette said they read the boy's letters home to one another and information is passed along to their sons. Everyone is usually asking about one another, so sharing is an easy way to keep up, Rhonda said.
"This whole family is very close," Rhonda said. "It helps, otherwise I wouldn't have any fingernails left."
So far, the boys have reported they're fine, Rhonda said.
"They're all pretty much feeling the same way, homesick and a little scared."