Every time a news bulletin flashes about a local soldier or Marine serving in the war, Margaret and Ray Hauser feel a pit in their stomachs.
The Cheektowaga couple have two sons serving in Iraq, and when they hear of troops getting wounded -- or worse -- they pray that their sons have been spared and that the news won't be bad for another family.
On Tuesday, they got the news that they'd been dreading.
The Hausers' older son, Army Spc. Michael D. Hauser, had been seriously wounded Tuesday in a suicide bomber attack.
They were initially told that the 23-year-old was the least seriously wounded of eight soldiers who came upon a bomb-laden woman in an alley they were patrolling in Baqubah, about 100 miles northeast of Baghdad.
"This lady came down an alley with a bomb," Ray Hauser said he was told. "The bomb was hidden under garments, and it exploded."
Army officials had first told the Hausers that the injuries weren't too bad: heat trauma and shrapnel wounds to Hauser's left leg.
Wednesday night, they learned his injuries were far more serious.
"From his head down, he was wounded with shrapnel on his entire left side," Margaret Hauser said.
Spc. Hauser was transported to Langstuhl, Germany, where he underwent surgery Wednesday to remove pieces of shrapnel from his brain. Doctors were able to get most of it out, but some small bits still remain lodged inside his skull, Margaret Hauser said.
The soldier was put in a medically induced coma to control the swelling to his brain. Today, he is expected to undergo another round of surgery, this time to set his leg, which was badly injured in the blast.
It will be at least another 48 hours before doctors can determine whether Michael Hauser's condition has stabilized enough to fly him back to the United States.
"We're on pins and needles," Margaret Hauser said. "If I hear one more bad thing, I think I'm going to scream."
The Hausers have also been struggling to get hold of their other son, Marine Cpl. Daniel G Hauser, 22, who is assigned to the Marine Aviation Logistic Squadron in al Asad.
They have been unable to reach him by phone or e-mail and were working with the Red Cross to try to track him down.
For months, the mother and father have struggled to deal with the steady flow of sad and scary news regarding war casualties.
"It's upsetting," the father said of coping with the fact that their sons are in a war zone. "You hear the news and you hear another Western New York soldier is killed and you hope it isn't your child or anyone's child."
Spc. Hauser arrived in Iraq in April and Cpl. Hauser started his tour there last January.
Cpl. Hauser is married to Jenifer Valenti Hauser, who is also a Marine corporal. She is assigned to the 2nd Marine Division at Camp LeJeune, N.C. Both husband and wife are 2003 graduates of Maryvale High School.
As for Spc. Hauser, he returned to the United States in July to be with his wife, Rachel, and their newborn daughter, Kyli, for two weeks. When stateside, he is stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.
"My wife and I hope to talk to Michael soon," Ray Hauser said. "At least he's away from the front lines now and in the safety of a hospital."
News Staff Reporter Maki Becker contributed to this report.