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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
My war: The naval officer's son

Paul Mason, 14, from Taunton, Somerset, has more reason than many to be relieved that the war is over. His father is a Lieutenant Commander serving on HMS Ocean, which has been stationed in the Gulf since January. Here he tells how he has coped throughout the war.

I'm getting excited already. My dad has been away for three months but now we hope he'll be home for my little brother's birthday at the end of May.

I feel very lucky that my dad is okay
Paul Mason

I'm really proud of my dad for everything that he's doing out there but we all miss him a lot.

I feel glad the war seems to be mostly over. I didn't really want it to happen in the first place but I knew there were a lot of bad things happening in Iraq and something had to be done.

Dangerous mission

I'm glad it was over quite quickly though and happy that I'll be able to see my dad and know he's safe.

It must be difficult out there. He did say that it was quite scary out there and from what I've seen on the television it's not very nice.

I was worried that he was in danger but I think what helped me was that I know my dad has been in a war before. He was in the 1991 Gulf war and he came back from that okay, but I'm still glad it's over.

I'm the man of the house so I've been looking after my mum. Still, when they say there's been an accident, a friendly fire or a crash, you think 'oh no, who is it?'

I feel really sorry for the families of those people who have lost their lives. My dad had to do the clear-up operation for the accident that happened on Ark Royal and that wasn't very nice at all. I feel very lucky that my dad is okay.

We have been in contact with him quite a lot - mum sends him an e-mail almost every day and he gets a 20-minute phone card every week so when he gets a free moment on the ship he can call.

But there was one point where they went into communications blackout and they weren't allowed to contact.

We also use bluey forms, an HM Forces Aerogram, which you get free from the post office.

Supportive friends

It's an easy way to contact him. I try to write to him every weekend and he tries to write back every week. Sometimes he gets a bit busy and we don't get one but usually we get one every week.

We're used to him not being home because of his work but this is quite different with him being away all the time. We've just come back from holiday yesterday and we were saying how great it was but then we wished he was with us.

Paul comforts mum and brother
The family have supported each other whilst Dad has been at sea

I'm at a normal comprehensive school but I do know some people who also have family out there.

The boy I sit next to in maths, his dad is on the same ship as my dad, we talk about it and it makes you feel as if you're not alone, there are other people going through it too. It helps a lot.

My brother is 10 years old. All my brother's friends at school have been helping him through it. He's the only one in his primary school that has someone out there.

It's a little more traumatic for him because he's not used to it, and he's a bit younger. He's always thinking the worst so I'm trying to reassure him. Every time my dad rings there's a big smile on his face.

I have to try and help my mum because she gets lonely.

When my dad's away a lot I do try to do my bit to keep them happy, but they are coping really well.

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