Two Eudora brothers serving together in the U.S. Navy are helping to keep afloat the growing armada of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf.
Mike and Duane Beerbower, both graduates of Eudora High School, are sailors aboard the USS Acadia, which provides an array of mobile repair and personal services for other ships.
Mike, 28, makes casts and molds for parts and tools. He also tests metals and runs furnaces. Duane, 25, works in the shipfitter's shop, where he handles a great deal of welding duties.
In an interview with a Navy public affairs writer, Duane said, "We are a destroyer tender whose primary mission is to repair battle damage to surface combatants to allow them to either return to the battle or make the vessel seaworthy enough to return to drydock for further repairs."
The Acadia's customers vary from 150-foot patrol boats to nuclear-powered cruisers and aircraft carriers.
THE BROTHERS boarded the Acadia and shipped out from San Diego on Sept. 5, stopping briefly in Hawaii, the Philippines and Singapore. They were scheduled to spend Christmas anchored near the port city of Al Fujayrah, a small coastal town in the United Arab Emirates.
Their father, Melvin Beerbower of rural Eudora, said Mike has served in the Navy for about eight years. Duane has been in the service about two years and was excited to learn his first assignment would find him working with his brother, Mr. Beerbower said.
"I think it's good that they're together," he said. "They'll do things for each other."
Beerbower said Christmas was particularly hard with both sons 10,000 miles away from home. "We usually have them all together and we have Christmas breakfast," he said. "This year, we just stayed around the house and waited in case they called."
THE CALL never came, but he speculated that the two men might not have had access to a phone.
Duane's wife, Heather Beerbower, also served in the Navy until her husband was shipped to the gulf. She then resigned to care for their infant son, Joshua, and now lives with Duane's mother, Linda Renne, in Kansas City. The hardest part of the separation is "knowing how much he's missing our child growing and changing," Heather said.
However, Heather said she takes consolation in knowing Duane and Mike are together. "It makes me feel a lot better that family's with him," she said.