In the days since her husband disappeared in Port-au-Prince, Peggy Bourland has told their toddlers that their father is still at work.
Air Force Maj. Ken Bourland, of Weston, has not been heard from since he was buried under a dusty pile of rubble on Jan. 12, when the Hotel Montana collapsed in a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.
Bourland, 37, is the Caribbean desk officer at U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Miami-Dade County. The career UH-1 Huey pilot traveled to Haiti with Lt. Gen. Ken Keen shortly before the earthquake to meet with government officials. Keen was not in the hotel at the time and is now overseeing the American relief operation in Haiti.
Four others from the Command also survived.
Bourland was most likely in his second-floor hotel room when the earthquake struck.
"We haven't given up hope," said Command spokesman Robert Appin. "They have crews searching the Hotel Montana pretty much around the clock."
Bourland said the last time she heard from her husband of four years was 10 minutes before the earthquake.
"Wow, Haiti," he wrote her in an e-mail, and told her he wished she could be there. Minutes later she saw a television news alert about the quake.
"I started worrying whether he was OK," said Bourland, 37, a stay-at-home mother of three children.
She fired off two e-mails to her husband, pleading, "Please tell me you're OK."
She has been waiting for his reply ever since.
Now she sustains herself with daily prayers. Her sons, Charley, 3, Andrew, 16 months, and Chance, 14, inspire her to keep going.
The family celebrated Charley's birthday a day early so his dad could be at the party before he left for the Dominican Republic on Jan. 10.
The couple met on a blind date in 2003 and married two years later. They connected over their passion for skiing, camping and hiking, and their affinity for old cars.
"By the second date, we knew it was serious," Peggy Bourland said.
As a boy growing up in Birmingham, Ala., Bourland aspired to join the Air Force like his father. He graduated from University of Alabama at Birmingham and joined the Air Force, serving in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, before attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., in 2008.
Peggy Bourland said she hopes her husband's military expertise will help him "figure out how to survive."
Jennifer Gollan can be reached at jgollan@SunSentinel.com or 954-572-2083.