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Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Kerridan, center, is flanked by his sons, Lance Cpl. Jason Kerridan, left, and Army Pvt. Mark Kerridan, Jr., at Fort Jackson, S.C. last November when Mark Jr. graduated Army combat engineer school.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Kerridan, center, is flanked by his sons, Lance Cpl. Jason Kerridan, left, and Army Pvt. Mark Kerridan, Jr., at Fort Jackson, S.C. last November when Mark Jr. graduated Army combat engineer school. (Courtesy of Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Kerridan)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — It’s a long way from the south side of Chicago to this air base in northern Japan.

But Uncle Sam has given Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Kerridan, a Chicago policeman, an opportunity to serve his country again.

For Kerridan, 48, a Navy reservist and a big White Sox fan, it’s also something of a family affair.

His son, Jason, a Marine lance corporal, is now in the thick of things in the Middle East, and another son, Mark Jr., is an Army private recently mobilized in Illinois.

Kerridan himself was activated last November as part of the continuing war on terrorism. He’s one of 9,875 Navy reservists ordered to active duty as of Wednesday, according to Pentagon figures posted to the Defense Link Web site.

But when his orders read Misawa, Kerridan had to search for an atlas.

“I had to look on a map to find where Misawa was,” Kerridan said. “All I was told was it’s cold and snowy.” Kerridan said. “The cold here isn’t too bad; it’s frigid in Chicago.”

He’s working for the security detail at Misawa’s Naval Air Facility, pulling flightline patrols for deployed patrol squadrons here.

Kerridan said Saturday he is certain Jason’s Marine artillery unit “has moved out.”

Since January, Jason had been in Kuwait with an artillery unit with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Shoup, 25 miles from the Iraqi border.

“There’s no e-mail where he is — just a lot of porta-potties. But they gave him a 5-minute phone call,” he said.

On Saturday, Kerridan recounted Jason’s phone call to his wife, Cheryl, in Chicago last Wednesday.

“He sounded a little scared,” she told Kerridan. “He mentioned about the really bad dust storms there, but he didn’t indicate anything was about to happen.”

Now hostilities have begun in the region, and Kerridan said he’s sure Jason’s unit “is in the action.”

Son Mark is a private who graduated from combat engineer school at Fort Jackson, S.C., Nov. 12. Dad went there for the graduation and proudly stood in uniform with Mark and Jason.

His 853rd Combat Engineer unit has just been mobilized, but Kerridan said his son’s unit hasn’t received orders yet.

“They were told they were going overseas, but they don’t know where,” he said.

Kerridan, an 18-year veteran of the police force in the Windy City, said, “We have quite a few in the department who have been called to active duty, about 60 of them.”

Kerridan will be in Misawa until September. While his pay scale isn’t what it would be if he stayed on the force in Chicago, it’s a sacrifice he accepts.

“Financially, it’s not a burden because the police department makes up the difference in pay,” he said. “It evens out.”

His biggest concern, he said, “is being away from home again, that’s where burden comes in.”

Kerridan says this is a good time to be in uniform serving the country.

“I never thought we would all be on active duty at the same time, but my boys have come of age and they made the decision to join the service,” he said. “Military service never hurts. You get out of it what you put into it.”

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