KENNEWICK -- In the military, technology isn't just limited to the battlefield. Advances through the years also have allowed service men and women to stay in touch with their loved ones in real time from far-flung posts around the globe.
During Khris Judy's two years of maintaining the weapons for the Army's 39th Transportation Battalion in Germany from 1986-88, she was only able to call her parents three times. To reach the phones, the Richland woman had to walk 21/2 miles across the Autobahn, or highway, and railroad tracks to wait in line.
A lot changes in 25 years.
On April 27, 2011, her son Troy Teal, now 24, of Kennewick, was serving in the Air Force and stationed at an airbase in Kabul, Afghanistan, when he was awakened by alarms signaling an attack.
Never miss a local story.
Teal, a 2007 graduate of Kennewick High School, was told to grab his body armor and sidearm and stay in the barracks. Base security had identified one shooter and two people were already dead.
"CNN is notorious for getting information within seconds of us getting information, so I knew (my mom) would see it. And she likes to worry, so I just got on Skype," he said.
It was the middle of the night for Judy, who was able to chat with her son as the story unfolded.
"It was terrifying to know what was going on and that I had no control," she said.
Eight U.S. troops and a civilian contractor were killed in the attack by an Afghan military officer, including Maj. Philip D. Ambard of Edmonds.
For Teal, whose job was to coordinate air strikes to aid forces on the ground, the situation was far from the most stressful he'd dealt with, he said.
"It was minor in comparison to everyday life. (This is) one guy on his own; somebody's going to take care of him. I got 200 guys in the field that ... me and my team are responsible for," he said. "Very minuscule, all things considered."
After the video feed cut out, the mother and son were able to keep chatting via text on Skype, a transcript that Judy saved.
"For me, it was better," said Judy of the real-time contact, "but for a mother who's never served, or a father who's never served and doesn't understand that call (to duty), it would be horrifying. I think it would be a lot worse.
"For me, I think it was easier."