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Sigl and son serve country

As Carol Sigl of Richardton reflects on the 20 years she spent serving in the military, her son, Eric Roper, is preparing for March deployment.

Roper, who lives in Hattiesburg, Miss., was about 11 years old when Sigl, who was a single parent at the time, left for Desert Storm.

Her parents took care of her children until their father could.

"Sometimes, being away from family when your duty came first -- when your family sort of takes second seat -- that's hard," she said. "You don't really put your mind there. You have a job to do and you're there to complete the mission. You write your letters, but you don't dwell on it -- you couldn't."

Roper said he didn't fully understand what was going on when Sigl left.

"When I actually did go, they were like 'don't go!' I was like, 'well if I don't, they'll throw me in jail for going AWOL,'" she said with a laugh. "My son made the comment that 'at least I could go see you.'"

With four children, Roper knows what his mother went through during deployment, since he has been deployed twice.

"Not being there for the holidays and the birthdays, that's probably the hardest," Roper said. "When it comes to their birthdays, they're going 'where's Daddy at?'"

However, he doesn't worry too much about his children when he's gone.

"I know they're in good hands," Roper said.

Sigl was deployed twice and traveled all over the world while she served in the Army and National Guard.

When she was on active duty with the Army, she was with the military police with the canine unit. "When I was over in Germany with the canine I was working with customs."

She got out of active duty in July 1989.

"My last 13 months, I was an instructor with the MP school -- military police school," Sigl said.

Fourteen years later, she joined the Army National Guard as a nuclear, biological, chemical person.

"It's mainly your job to be sure your company is prepared for any chemical attacks, or any type of biological attacks, to prepare for them," she said.

Sigl retired in October, but stays active with veterans groups.

His mother's military career inspired Roper to join.

"When I was younger I used to dress up in her uniform for Halloween," Roper said, adding Sigl's boots were uncomfortable.

The tradition is carrying on, since Roper's 17-year-old son, Michael Gilpn, recently joined the military, Roper said.

Sigl said the best part of serving in the military was the camaraderie "and having a mission to do and completing it."