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Tucker family waits, prays for news of missing son

Madras soldier was born in Prineville
One of the two soldiers who was kidnapped in Iraq on Friday from an insurgent group was identified as a central Oregon man by the Defense Department on Sunday.
   Thomas Lowell Tucker, 25, of Madras, was one of the men kidnapped. He was born in Prineville and raised in Madras, where his family currently lives.
   Tucker, along with Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, were reportedly kidnapped in an attack that killed one soldier, Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass.
   According to a statement released from his family, Tucker was stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky., and was a Private First Class.
   "We are praying for the safe return of our son, Tom, and Pvt. First Class Kristian Menchaca and our deepest sympathy is with the family of Spc. David Babineau," the family said.
   Here in Prineville, Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said that two large yellow ribbons will be placed on the columns at the entrance to the courthouse. In addition, an MIA-POW (Missing in Action - Prisoner of War) flag will be raised awaiting the safe return of the soldiers.
   Tucker is the son of Wes and Margaret Tucker of Madras and the grandson of Tom and Esther Tucker of Prineville as well as John and Carolyn Chandler.
   U.S. Congressman Greg Walden issued the following statement on Tucker:
   "I would encourage all Oregonians to say a prayer for Tom and for the Tucker family during this uncertain time. Pfc. Tucker is one of America's finest and is brave serving our nation in the cause of freedom.
   "I have been in contact with Defense Department and Oregon National Guard officials, and have spoken with Tom's father, Wes, to offer any and all assistance to the family. I know the commitment and the ability of our military to leave no one behind. Despite the difficult task, I remain hopeful of a successful outcome."
   Tucker graduated from Madras High School and worked for several years in construction as a framer. At Fort Campbell, Tucker was a member of B Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
   "Wesley and Margaret Tucker and the rest of the family wish to express their deepest gratitude to the communities of Madras and central Oregon for their wonderful support during this time of stress and uncertainty," the family said in a statement.
   Tucker, along with Menchaca, were reportedly kidnapped by a group called the Mujahedeen Shura Council. According to the Associated Press, the Mujahedeen Shura Council is a grouping of several insurgent forces, including al-Qaida in Iraq.
   In a recent telephone message that remains on the Tuckers answering machine, Tom said, "Be proud of me Mom, I'm defending my country. Tell sis and my nephews hello for me, I'm OK. I'm on my way."