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Anderson.bmp (87654 bytes) Craig Osborne/Democrat photo

Mother in law's home in Rochester on Thursday. Cindy made a website to help her husband, Michael, a Marine serving in Iraq, keep in touch with the family. (Cindy Anderson, with Daughter Lydia, 9 months, a)

Soldier's wife creates web site for families

(Reprint from, June 6, 2005)

ROCHESTER — A young Rochester family is staying connected by the World Wide Web while they are separated by thousands of miles of ocean and sand.

Cindy Anderson, 21, has created a Web site so she can stay in touch with husband Sgt. Mike Anderson, 23, of the U.S. Marines, who is serving his second tour of duty at Camp Al Quain in Iraq. The site is full of letters, updates from Mike, photos of family and contact information. It also links other local families from around northern New England with loved ones in the Marine Corps.

The young wife and mother said Mike is not much of a letter writer, so the site allows him to communicate with the family even when he can't call home.

"It's a good way for his friends and family to stay updated," Cindy said Thursday at her mother and father-in-law's home in Rochester. "The best part of the Web site is the pictures, it's easier to get messages and everyone can stay in contact."

Mike misses Cindy, daughter Lydia, parents John and Bernice "Bunny," sister Kelly and the rest of his family immensely. Also near and dear to his heart are his three dogs, and the American comforts he craves most are pizza, beer and Red Sox and Patriots games. Cindy said his living quarters in Iraq are covered with sports memorabilia.

Cindy met Mike, a 2000 Spaulding High School graduate, when he was dating her best friend and had just returned from his first tour in Iraq in June 2003. She is a 2002 Dover High School graduate. The two hit it off and were married in August 2003 and moved to North Carolina.

Their relationship has remained strong in spite of his absence.

"It works because we're still together, and we have a beautiful baby — born on our one-year anniversary," Cindy said.

With nine-month-old Lydia growing by leaps and bounds, the Web site provides a way for Mike to watch the "baby firsts" of their child. Lydia has learned to recognize Dad's voice on the phone and laughs whenever he speaks.

Mike is not only missing out on his daughter's firsts but also family memories, including his sister Kelly's wedding this past weekend. The family paid tribute to him, however, at the ceremony, and Kelly placed his photo at the head table at the reception. "She had us all crying," Bernice said. "My husband and I danced with the photo to "I Will Always Love You," and that had us crying too."
Mike has been with the Marine Corps for five years, and is currently with Weapons Company 32. Cindy said he enjoys being in charge and a tough guy.

"But when it comes to his family, he is the exact opposite," she said. "he is emotional, caring, loving and a goofball."

If he wasn't an enlisted Marine, she added, he would be in law enforcement or own his own business, though he most likely plans to have a military career.

"If it means he retires in 20 years, then I can spend the rest of my life with him without having to worry," Cindy said. "The only downfall is the deployments."

Getting news from family has helped Mike get through difficult times in Iraq. Cindy said he has had recurring nightmares ever since he saw fellow Marines killed and one friend shot in the face. On another occasion, he was rattled after he used a discarded poncho to keep warm while he was out on a mission. He later learned the poncho was used to wrap a dead man in because there were no more body bags available.

"The best thing is for him to call home and get the letters, otherwise his head wouldn't be in the right place," Cindy said.

The Web site is one of the many ways the Anderson's support each other; they pray each night for Mike as well as send letters and packages. Cindy writes him every day, and his parents write about five days a week.

The Web site has been a welcome distraction for Cindy too, and in the process, she has met other soldier's wives. She said she worries about him when he can't call when he is out on raids. She's also learned two new hospitals have been built at Camp Al Quain, which is located near the Syrian border, because the military expects there to be many injuries during the month of June.

"The scary part is that they are expecting it to happen," she said.

Since Cindy started the Web site in March, there has been an outpouring of support for Mike and his fellow Marines. He has received countless letters — including one from Ross Perot — and care packages and distributes the items from the packages to his comrades.

"They all love him for that," Bernice said.

The Anderson family is planning a huge welcome home party for Mike when he returns from Iraq this fall.

To send Mike or another local Marine a letter or learn more about the site, visit