updated 10/01/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/01/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Our story on American mothers headed for the Persian Gulf (PEOPLE, Sept. 10) irritated many readers, who seemed to assume that the women we wrote about were asking for special consideration—though most of them weren't—and aren't.

Thank you for breaking the silence on women in the Middle East. As I watch the news, I sometimes glimpse a female soldier, but all the interviews, close-ups and "Hi, Mom" five-second bites are focused on the traditional soldier—the male. It was wonderful to see the stories of the single women, the moms and the grandmas who are there in the thick of the danger.
Jerilyn Willin
LaGrange Park, Ill.

When my wife, Melanie, myself and our son, Kyle, were interviewed for your article, it was uncertain whether Melanie would be going. She is now somewhere in the Middle East. Although our situation warrants a lot of mixed emotions. I have pledged to support her in any way I can. I admire her patriotism and courage. I have no doubt she will do her duty and do it well.
Scott D. Hoskins
Havelock, N.C.

Your cover photo is the best argument I know to keep women out of the armed services! It's not fair to the kids.
Phyllis Mills
Tahlequah, Okla.

Enough already! I am exhausted from reading and hearing all the sad tales of woe of moms going off to war. Dads have been doing it for centuries. My husband is a retired Air Force NCO who was sent to remote assignments all over the world. The news media didn't seem to give a hoot that he was separated from his wife and sons for over three years during our first seven years of marriage. Trust me, war is hell—for everyone involved.
Judy Huelga
Templeton, Calif.

As a 13-year Army and Navy veteran who had two children while in the Army, I was shocked and ashamed of Alecia Avery's anger at being sent to Saudi Arabia because she had an infant son. Soldier, if you can't or won't do your job, get out of the Army. Thousands of reservists with children, including myself, are ready to serve our country anywhere we're needed.
Celeste Barrett Rubanick
Ocoee, Fla.

Why all the hoopla about mothers going to war? Women took the same oath as men. If they aren't prepared to go to war, they should never have made the commitment to serve in the armed forces.
SPC Jay Thomas
Fort Polk, La.

Oh pul-lecz, Alecia. Just what were you thinking about when you signed up to preserve, protect and defend our country? The commissary privileges, the PX, base housing, the free medical and dental care? You're right about one thing, no mother should have to leave her baby. But then again, neither should a father. That's what makes war so tragic.
Deborah Schmidt

My husband and I are both Army. I am expecting our first child this month. We are hoping Bill will stay here long enough to see the baby's birth. I am hoping to stay stateside throughout the crisis. But when we both joined the Army, we knew what could happen. We will do what we are told—no matter if it is something we want to do or not—simply because we are soldiers and that is what we volunteered to do.
Kathleen M. Dodd
Killeen, Texas

Any woman who would leave her children and go running off to play Ms. Rambo in some foreign country does not deserve to be called a mother. Real mothers put the well-being of their children ahead of everything else in the world—even patriotism.
John L. Wallace
Coatesville, Pa.

As the mother of a son in the Army in Saudi Arabia, I don't understand the big deal about sending women to the Persian Gulf. My son's life is just as valuable to me as anyone's daughter's is to them.
Edna McCorkle
Wichita, Kans.

Isn't equal rights at the heart of this? I find it very difficult to sympathize with these women. Did they expect a simple office job with no disruption of their lives? Sorry, ma'am, you should have thought of this possibility before you joined the service. So many wanted equal rights—so enjoy it.
Mrs. Arthur Memser
Easton, Pa.

The fact remains: Wilbert Rideau is a murderer. The woman he murdered lost her life; she can never come back. He deserves the same.
Gillette R. Lucas
Overland Park. Kans.

I agree with Wilbert Rideau. He says he's asking for nothing more than equal justice, and I think he deserves nothing less. Take him outside of town on a deserted road, shoot him twice, cut his throat, stab him in the heart, and if he lives, turn him loose.
Joyce James
Bristow, Okla.

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