South Mississippian Trapped In War-Torn Country

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It is still unclear whether or not Russia will follow a cease-fire plan to end fighting in Georgia. But for one South Mississippi mother, the violence is hitting close to home.

"I'm trying as hard as I can to be positive and not break down," said Melanie Allen.

Allen's 35-year-old son, Lee, has been in the Republic of Georgia for the past two years serving with the Peace Corp. But never did this mother imagine her son would be at the center of a war.

"The first news we heard from Lee was that fighting had broke out in South Ossetia, which is the province just north of the city of Gori," Allen said.

The bombings quickly spread to Gori killing thousands of military and civilian targets. Lee lives in the Georgia capitol of Tblisi, where civilians are worried Russian forces will soon attack.

"It was overwhelming at first and I try to stay strong, but it really got to me. And yesterday was a horrible day. I just wanted to go to bed and put the covers over my head and pray, but he said, 'Mom, you've got to be strong. I've got to be strong,'" Allen said.

The bombings have destroyed cell towers, so there is no phone communication. Email is the only means of exchange. And with each word, there's fear of the worst.

Lee Allen completed his mission with the Peace Corp more than a year ago, but has since gotten married. Since February 2007, they've been waiting on a VISA for his new bride. But until it arrives, Lee has no plans to return to the states, leaving this mother to do everything in her power to speed up the process.

"I have appealed to Senator Wicker's office and Senator Cochran's office and Representative Taylor," said Allen.

In the meantime, she is holding on to the hope that both her son and daughter-in-law will soon make it home safely.

Melanie Allen said her son Lee was able to make it to the U.S. Embassy and will join a group of Americans who will try and escape Georgia in a convoy. They will leave Wednesday morning which will be about midnight central time. The convoy will take the Americans to Armenia.

Meanwhile, Western leaders are pushing to punish Russia for its actions against Georgia. The United States and its allies are considering expelling Moscow from an exclusive club of powerful nations and canceling an upcoming joint NATO-Russia military exercise.