War’s ‘communication gap’ disappearing thanks to social media

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Colorado soldier Steve Turnboo was 7,000 miles away from home, stuck in the middle of a war zone.

Yet he was still able to watch his son crawl for the first time, thanks to Facebook. In Afghanistan, social networking sites are revolutionizing the way soldiers stay in communication with their loved ones.

Turboo, a Sargent First Class in the Army, returned home to Colorado Springs last month. 

He hadn’t laid eyes on his son little Gage since he was a newborn.

Turnboo missed nearly the entire first year of his child’s life.  But thanks to social networking, he was able to log on from the battle zone and get daily updates on his pride and joy back home.

Strangely, because of the videos, photos and Facebook posts, it really didn’t seem like he was half a world away.

“It's almost like he wasn't even gone,” said his wife, Dawn Turnboo. “I tried to film stuff for him of Gage when he started crawling or babbling, and he saw all of that stuff, so it was like he wasn't even gone.”

Gone is the communication gap of wars past. 

Soldiers used to have a write a letter to their loved ones - and wait six weeks for it to get there.  But in Afghanistan - they're texting, Skyping and Facebooking in real time, able to watch milestones from the battlefield.

“Our whole platoon would share one satellite, and there would be one router, and everyone would have their cable, and it was a pretty rinky-dink operation we had going, but for the most part everybody's internet would work,” said Steve.

In fact, Turnboo says his Facebook communication with his wife was so frequent that, like most couples, they sometimes ran out of things to say. Not only was he able to keep track of his son's milestones, but his wife's too.

“I started going to the gym more often, and that was the only way for Steve to see all of that was Facebook pictures and Skype,” Dawn said.

She lost 58 pounds while he was away, and he was able to track her progress.

There was a time when the Pentagon considered banning all social networking sites like Facebook, but they did a study showing the sites did more good than harm.

They're morale boosters for soldiers like Steve.  Reminders of home, but still not quite as good as the real thing.

“Seeing the videos can't really compare to actually watching him, actually getting to toss him around and hold him or what not,” Steve said.