Most of us watch the war coverage waiting for news of American victory. But for those with husbands, daughters, and sons overseas, a victory means getting their loved one's home safely. And that kind of victory is what Sandra Perkins thinks about every day. For a parent, letting go is never easy.
"Graduation was the hardest. It was his 18th birthday, graduation, and a goodbye party all at the same time," says Perkins.
Sandra Perkins remembers the day she said goodbye to her 18 year-old son, Alex. After graduating from Coronado High School, he joined the Marine Corps.
"I must have cried everyday until he left for bootcamp," she says.
Little did she know, even more difficult days lie ahead.
"He graduated from bootcamp in San Diego on September 6th, and I thought that was gonna be the most emotional time of my life -- but no, doesn't come close," she says.
On Saturday, Alex is on the front lines in Iraq, part of the Marine's 3rd Light Armored Recon Unit, headed straight for Baghdad.
"I don't know where he is, and I don't know whether he's still alive, but I can pray," she says.
The last time Sandra heard from Alex was about three weeks ago.
"It was a letter that I have to tell you these things just in case. He had a paragraph for each of us. He told us how much he loved us. He told her that he would still be her big brother and protect her whether she liked it or not, and he told me that I was crazy and that's why he's the way he is."
They're contact with him now is through watching television, watching the war live, listening around the clock, searching for information anywhere. Even on a website where a particular picture caught her eye.
"I went and I looked and I thought it was him because of the hairline and the way he holds his hands when he prays. His head is always way down deep and when I saw it I said that's gotta be him," she says.
There are thousands of marines in Iraq. This photo shows one kneeling in prayer, just the top of a head not a face, but there was something about him only a mother could recognize.
"That silver watch and it has a dark blue face, and you can barely see it with a magnifying glass and there's a nick on the back of his head, wrestling when they were kids," she says.
Despite the comfort of the photograph, pictures can only do so much.
"The hardest part is when they say a marine has been killed in action, and then, you know you have to wait."
Wait and worry, watching in silence as she hears news of marines killed in action. It's a mixed form of relief knowing her son is still alive, but two of his comrades have been lost. The only thing she needs now is for Alex to come home.
Sandra has no idea when Alex will come home, but until then, she receives support through a website for military moms. For more information, you can (click here).