Supporting the Troops

Whether or not people are in support of the war, one wartime aspect is usually agreed upon: support our troops.

For most people, the troops are a far-off entity who are “protecting our homeland” and “fighting for freedom.”

This is not the case for two students at the College, Alison Litvack and Jen Nemmers. Every time the girls hear “support our troops,” Nemmers hopes her uncle returns home safe and Litvack misses her older brother.

Nemmers’ uncle, Eric Isler, 33, is second in command for his transportation unit, giving orders to a couple hundred men under him. Stationed in the deserts of Iraq, Eric Isler’s main job is to refuel tanks as they drive through his area.

“They do it as they’re driving because once the tanks stop, they make an obvious target,” Nemmers said.

While this seems like a dangerous feat to anyone whose closest experience to the war has been Geraldo Rivera’s sand-mapping, Eric Isler is unfearing.

“I think he absolutely loves what he does,” Nemmers said. “He can definitely take care of himself.”

This self-sufficient, fearless ideology radiates from Nemmers as well and is rooted in the family’s close affiliation with the military.

Nemmers was born in Illinois, moved to Florida and finally settled down in Hamilton, N.J., as a result of her parents constantly being restationed.

Her uncle Eric Isler married high school sweetheart Becky, who is now a nurse in the Air Force. They met in the Navy – Eric, an electronics professor and Becky, his student.

Stationed at a Texas base with her two sons, Becky Isler is awaiting a call to serve at any time. Nemmers said that the boys are raised with military strictness, but will get a nice break if mom gets called to serve. They’ll then be living with their grandparents in Florida.

“Those two boys are so full of energy but they’re very disciplined,” Nemmers said. “Unless they’re with my grandparents, then they’re very spoiled.”

While the family is usually close, it is hard to keep in close contact with Eric Isler when he is constantly moving around Iraq. The best they can do is quick, one-line e-mails that say “I’m OK,” or “Love you guys.”

“War is war,” Nemmers said. “It has to happen. You may or may not like it, but people are people and you have to give your support.”

Alison Litvack knows Nemmers’ steadfastness, having to deal with her brother, Michael Litvack, 24, being in short contact and always on the move through Kuwait and Iraq.

“I don’t know exactly what he’s doing right now – he can’t tell us before he goes,” Michael Litvack said. “He can only contact us when he gets there.”

Since he works with the army’s communications department, Michael Litvack is not fighting on the front lines. Litvack said that Michael Litvack isn’t involved in combat, but he is trained in it. His main duty is to make contact with the Iraqi people after the military forces have swept through their towns. He speaks with them, consoles them and gives out food.

“It’s less dangerous, so we’re happy about that,” Alison Litvack said, concerned about Michael Litvack, who is “quiet, but when he says something, it’s really funny.”

Michael Litvack’s genuine character had him return to the military after completing his four years of service. He had originally enlisted in order to pay for college, but after Sept. 11, his plans changed.

“He knew we would be going to war so he didn’t want to leave his friends who were still in the military,” Alison Litvack said. Michael Litvack’s dedication has enabled him to travel all over the U.S., in Africa and most recently, through the Middle East. He has his family’s support no matter where he is.

“We’re all for the war,” Alison Litvack said. “So many people have turned their backs on the idea of war and that’s really upsetting to people with family over there because it’s like turning their backs on us. They are just defending our freedom and trying to help the country, enabling us to enjoy our freedom.”

Both Jen Nemmers and Alison Litvack constantly think of their loved ones, but seem to be confident of their safe returns and a victory for the U.S.

Mark Lopez, student of the College, was deployed for military service in Iraq. He has been training 16 hours a day and would appreciate any correspondence. He can be reached at: Pfc Lopez, Mark, 254 Transportation Co., Building 5952, Fort Dix, N.J., 08640.