Take off

You can fly, you can fly, you can fly.

Piper Cub Fly-In at Hampton Airfield today.

These classic aircraft of the 1940’s just belong at our local grass-strip runway. According to owner Mike Hart, Hampton Airfield has been in continuous operation since 1946 and was once a licensed Piper Cub dealer.

Rent a Piper Cub for $80 per hour. Flight lessons are $40 per hour. There’s your little bit of pixie dust.

Blue Star mom founds Seacoast Military Support Group

Hilari Murphy on her front porch in North Hampton with a cardboard poster of her son, SPC Matt Murphy, now serving with the Army National Guard in Afghanistan. Because of the nature of his job, his face cannot be shown in the media. Matt’s face is covered with a collage of photos of other New Hampshire soldiers, the sons and daughters of Blue Star mothers.

Seacoast Sunday: Blue Star mom founds military support group

Hilari Murphy hopes to match the Afghanistan troop surge with a surge of support on the home front. The mother of a recently deployed Army National Guardsman is establishing the first military support group in the Seacoast for “Blue Star Mothers” and other family members of active duty military personnel.

The group, meeting monthly at the VFW Post 35 in Hampton, will ship care packages, raise awareness of military issues, volunteer, share information and offer support for families with loved ones serving in any branch of the Armed Forces.

Fear and worry can be overwhelming for parents when their children are sent overseas to fight. A mother’s instinct to protect her child persists, even when he wears a camouflage combat uniform to work. The Internet can help military families stay connected, but also cause worry when world events are reported instantly and rumors circulate.

“You can’t function without support,” Murphy said. “If it’s your first deployment, it can be devastating.”

When she attended a meeting of the New Hampshire chapter of Blue Star Mothers in Concord with her husband Larry, they found strength in shared experience. “It felt good to be there. I didn’t feel alone anymore,” she said.

With the help of the Blue Star Mothers, she found ways to support her son and other young men and women like him who have chosen military service.

Murphy, who lives in North Hampton, is a nurse who works as a cardiac device specialist at Atlantic Cardiology in Portsmouth. She maintains a military support bulletin board at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, with information about local people who are deployed, and tributes to New Hampshire servicemen and women who have died.

She also sends weekly care packages to her son. She recently collected and shipped items for Matt Murphy’s entire unit. Before Matt even left for Afghanistan, she had “adopted” two other soldiers who were not receiving care packages.

Murphy supports the Pease Greeters, which welcomes troops passing through the tradeport’s airport en route to overseas deployment or returning stateside. She hopes to help Post 35 raise money to expand its memorial for New Hampshire soldiers who have died in the global war on terrorism.

This past week, the war in Afghanistan officially overtook the Vietnam War and now stands as the longest war in American history. The war in Afghanistan is now in its 104th month. By next year, more than 100,000 troops will be in place for operations intended to break the Taliban’s control.

The stress and hardship of fighting a war 6,500 miles away is borne almost entirely by military service members, who represent less than 1 percent of the U.S. population — and their families.

Murphy said she wants to encourage events like blood drives, sending care packages, writing thank-you letters and thanking veterans.

“I want to get the word out they are over there,” she said.

At meetings of the N.H. Seacoast Military Support Group, she hopes to offer support, especially to military family members, as she knows what they are going through.

“This is about the people related to the soldiers. You can come, you can cry,” she said. “The emotions with deployment don’t start when they leave America. They start when your significant person says, ‘I’ve enlisted.'”

Blue Star Mothers of America is a national nonprofit organization with roots in the World War I, when people hung blue star flags to indicate a family member was serving in the Armed Forces and gold star flags to show a family member had died in service to the nation. Murphy hopes more people will display star flags with pride. Yellow ribbons are also a way to send a simple message to troops: “We support you and we’re waiting for you to come home. We have not forgotten you.”

“We weren’t a military family,” Murphy admitted, “but when Matt told us he enlisted I hugged him. Mothers will always support their kids.”

At a glance

Who: NH Seacoast Military Support Group

When: Meets the fourth Wednesday of every month, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The next meeting is June 23

Where: American Legion Post 35, 69 High St., Hampton

For more information: E-mail Hilari Murphy at nhseacoastbsm@aol.com