War cuts short daughter, dad's meeting

Hillsdale woman spends day with father before his National Guard training begins.

Associated Press

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Associated Press

Jen Benson, 33, of Hillsdale met her father, National Guard member Ronald G. Bucher, for the first time in late October in Indiana.


HILLSDALE - A 33-year-old woman who met her father for the first time Saturday soon will have to say farewell as he heads off to use his explosives expertise in Iraq as a member of the Indiana National Guard.

"I'm worried," Jen Benson said of her father, Ronald G. Bucher of LaPorte, Ind. "I'm scared because I just found him. I'm going to write him and pray for his safety."

Benson's birth mother, Candance, was adopted from a German orphanage at the end of World War II by Helen Kane and her U.S. serviceman husband, W.R. Kane.

Candance Kane met Benson's father at a Halloween party and they soon married, but separated before Benson was born.

"I basically stayed with my grandparents from then on," Benson told the Hillsdale Daily News. When Benson was 3, her mother died of a drug overdose, and Benson's grandparents adopted her.

Helen Kane died soon after, and W.R. Kane remarried. He and his new wife corresponded with Benson's paternal grandmother, but did not allow Bucher to have contact with Benson.

Then, about six months ago, her grandfather began sending Benson items that had belonged to her mother. Among them was a scrapbook .

On Oct. 28, Benson and friend and co-worker Mary McCaskey were going through the scrapbook and came across a reference to Bucher's brother, Frank. The two women turned to the Internet.

A shock came when Benson learned her father was living only close by in LaPorte, Ind. Benson spoke to her father by phone late that night and received yet another shock.

"He said, 'We have to (see each other) Saturday because I'm leaving for Iraq,' " Benson said.

Benson took McCaskey with her for the meeting Saturday.

"I had no nervousness ... but when we pulled into LaPorte it was surreal, it was like a dream," Benson said.

Benson found out she looks like her father and has a half-sister in California. She also found that her father had never stopped looking for her.

Now Benson is facing another worry that tens of thousands of American families are facing - the thought of a loved one in peril in Iraq. Bucher left for training at Camp Atterbury in Indiana on Monday.

Bucher will have a chance to see his daughter one more time before he leaves. He should have a four-day break around Thanksgiving and should be able to meet his grandchildren, Benson said.

She said 11-year-old Peyton, 10-year-old Donni Leigh and 8-year-old Isabella are eager to meet the grandfather they have heard about so often.