Soldier Calls Home During Gunbattle in Afghanistan Sandie Petee came home from running an errand to find a message her son had accidentally left on her answering machine. She hit play and heard the sound of Stephen in the middle of a battle with insurgents in Afghanistan. Petee talks with Andrea Seabrook about the scare.

Soldier Calls Home During Gunbattle in Afghanistan

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So you're picking up your messages from your answering machine and you hear this.

(Soundbite of gunfire and yelling)

SEABROOK: That's part of a message left on the answering machine of Sandie Petee of Otis, Oregon. Her son, Stephen Phillips is an Army military policeman serving in Afghanistan. The message is the sound of a firefight.

(Soundbite of gunfire)

SEABROOK: We spoke with Sandie Petee about this scare she got from that message.

Ms. SANDIE PETEE (Mother of soldier serving in Afghanistan): Well at first it was kind of hard to figure out what it was and then when we realized it was gunfire it - my husband and I just stood there and looked at each other. Eventually, it ended and we were just totally in shock and disbelief that that could actually be Stephen 'cause a lot of the yelling in there was Stephen.

SEABROOK: I understand that one of his good friends died about a year ago.

Ms. PETEE: Yes, in fact that's where I was the morning that the call came in. I was in buying flowers for Mike's parents because it was the year anniversary of his passing.

SEABROOK: Now his friend was in Iraq?

Ms. PETEE: Yes. It's affected everybody in the county, that one.

SEABROOK: So what did you do when you got this message?

Ms. PETEE: Well, at first we didn't get - couldn't get a hold of him. It was about an hour, hour and a half and he finally answered and let us know - we told what happened and he was really embarrassed by it and apologized for us having to hear it and let us know that he was okay and so was everybody else.

SEABROOK: You didn't cry, you don't...

Ms. PETEE: Oh, yeah, it was very emotional. I thought that was, you know, after Mike dying last year, I thought maybe that was the last thing that we heard, 'cause at the very end of it you hear Stephen yelling, incoming, incoming, RPG, and then it just goes dead.

SEABROOK: How did it end up being recorded on your voicemail?

Ms. PETEE: He leaned up against the phone. He had called us earlier in the day and nobody answered. So he hung up and when they got in this firefight, we're at the top of the list on speed dial. He leaned against it and it redials automatically.

SEABROOK: How long has he been over there?

Ms. PETEE: Fifteen months.

SEABROOK: That's a long time.

Ms. PETEE: Yeah, it is.

SEABROOK: How do you stay so calm, Sandie Petee?

Ms. PETEE: It's - I'm not always this calm. It's, you know, we have our ups and downs. We go through moments. There's - we go and sometimes read the messages on YouTube and some of them are pretty emotional as far as, you know, support, and some of them are just so heart wrenching, I sometimes have to quit reading them because they just make me tear up so bad. You know, we never expected anything to go this far. We just thought, you know, we put it mainly on YouTube so that friends and family could hear it.

SEABROOK: I understand he's scheduled to come home next week?

Ms. PETEE: Yes he is.

SEABROOK: You must be so ready for that.

Ms. PETEE: Oh, absolutely, we can't wait.

SEABROOK: Sandie Petee joined us from the studios of KBCH-AM in Lincoln City, Oregon. Stephen Phillips will be back in the United States next week.

(Soundbite of music)

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