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Monday, November 17, 2003

The Record

For this Cohoes family, duty calls

By: Robert Cristo , The Record 10/14/2003

COHOES - Bolstered by the support of both friends and strangers, a city family is torn between the pride of having their 19-year-old son fighting for freedom in Iraq and the anguish of knowing that on his mission, danger lurks at every turn.

The last time Dan Forant III saw his father, Dan Forant Jr., and his grandmother, Connie, was two months ago when he
got the call that sent him to join his comrades with the U.S Army's Charlie Company, First Brigade, in Iraq.
"I was absolutely mortified, terrified. ... I told him 'I wish I could go in your place,'" said his grandmother, a retired graphic artist. "But he's still such a hero to me. ... I remember him telling me that this was the job he had to do, even though he didn't have to go."
Since then, communication between Dan and his close-knit family has consisted of one phone call and the occasional e-mail.
"He was saying positive things, but his voice sounded down and he wasn't himself. He knows it's a very dangerous place," said Forant's father.
During the past few weeks, Forant's unit has moved west of Baghdad to the deserts of Ar Ramedi, where soldiers in his unit have been killed in roadside ambushes.
"We worry every day, especially when you watch the news and see the car bombings and the soldiers getting ambushed and killed," said Dan's father, 39, a financial marketer who served in the military in the mid-'80s.
"You never know what's going to happen, but I support the war and I'm proud of my son and I believe in the job all the soldiers are doing over there.
"When you think about how we have 150,000 troops in Iraq holding down a population of 21 million with less than 400 deaths ... that's definitely an overwhelming military success," he added.
Just a few weeks ago, Forant's family read letters sent from Iraq to local elementary school children and also initiated a campaign to send care packages to soldiers overseas.
The Forants also set up a Web site designed to allow supporters to learn more about their son and the war in Iraq. A banner with a photograph of Dan can also be seen stretched across the family's home on Columbia Street.
The overwhelming response from the community has already produced more than a dozen care packages of everything from paperback books, magazines and games to toiletries, candy and cameras.
"They (soldiers) really only get ammo, water and meals, so this outpouring from the public really gives them a good feeling of home and it boosts morale," said Forant Jr., "and that's really all they have to hold onto while they're there."
Both father and grandmother are praying every day that their pride and joy will return home in 12 months without a scratch to his body, mind or spirit.
"Being over there is such a tremendous burden, especially for someone so young," said Forant Jr. "I just hope he can go on with his life and is not psychologically damaged by what he's seen and done."
The Forant family wants to thank the city of Cohoes mayor's office and many schools and churches throughout the Capital District, including the Cohoes school district and St. Ambrose Church in Latham, for their support.
Anyone interested in learning more can check out www.danforantiniraq.com.

The Record

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