When Anne Arundel County police officer Eric Owens reports this week for military duty, he'll leave behind a 4-year-old son whom he, a single parent, has been caring for.
"I honestly don't want to go," said Owens, 29, whose mother will watch his son in his absence. "My family doesn't want me to go. My job is here. My family is here. Now, I have to go over there and give up all of it. Everything will be on hold."
Also on hold will be his marriage to his fiancee. It was planned for September.
Two weeks ago, the inactive reserve Marine was reactivated and told to report to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for possible duty in the Persian Gulf war. No one was more surprised than Owens, who spent four years in the Marines and another five in the reserves before being placed on the inactive list last May.
"I thought, 'No way. They're not going to call me. They'll call for the guys in the reserves first,' " he said. "I really couldn't believe it. I still can't."
A part-time body builder, Owens said he knows of no other members of his former unit who have been reactivated. Owens suspects he was reactivated because of his specialty: chemical warfare.
A member of the county's police department for the past six FTC years, Owens openly admits he has no desire to serve in the gulf region. Although he's been promised his job back when he returns, he doesn't like the idea of leaving the police department. Another member of his shift has already been called up.
"I served my time in the Marines. That's not my career," Owens said. "I'm a police officer. That's my career."
Despite his misgivings, Owens said, he is preparing himself to serve his country.
"I'll go and I'll do what I have to do," he said. "I just want to get over there and get back."
No fewer than five going-away parties have been held for him in the past two weeks. But it was a party Monday at the Annapolis Health and Fitness Center where he works out that really brought home the fact that he may be going off to war.
"I guess it's really starting to sink in now," Owens said. "In four days, I'll be gone."