In this flat, sprawling seaside city-suburb, horses still graze in open pastures, undisturbed by the nearly constant roar of Navy fighter jets on training flights or the steady hum of housing construction.

It seemed to be business as usual here today, as thousands of military families went about their normal payday chores -- working, shopping and paying bills.

But televisions and radios were turned up for the latest word from the troubled Mideast where other pilots, many of them based at the Oceana U.S. Naval Station here, had been involved in the lastest fight with Libya.

Navy wife Bonnie Violette, 31, said her 11-year-old son came home last night asking, "Is my daddy dead?"

Violette's husband, a Navy chief, is on a ship at the U.S. base at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay. But children "look at the map, and it all seems so close," she said, living the fear shared by familiies thoughout the Tidewater's many defense installations. "How do I tell them their dad might go to war?"

As they did during U.S. exercises in the Gulf of Sidra late last month, Navy officials barred news media from military installations here. "There's concern over identifying families," said Navy Lt. J.C. Martin, an Atlantic Fleet information officer. "It makes it far easier to identify for terrorist targets."

At the tranquil Red Wing Lake public golf course, Sandy, who did not want her last name used, tended the busy snack bar but said her thoughts were on her husband, a flight deck supervisor on a support ship in the combat area.

"When I was leaving last night, they said Reagan was going to talk at 9 o'clock and I said, 'Uh, oh.' . . . . What Reagan did, he had to do," she added firmly.

JoAnn Barnard, 53, an assistant golf pro, looked up from a golf-shoe sale long enough to express support for President Reagan.

"I almost cut the television off this morning with Bryant Gumbel on NBC's "Today" show asking all the negative questions . . . . They're influencing the American people. The decision is already made and done. We ought to stick behind the president all the way."

At Lanny (Okie) Ocamb's Smokie Grocery and Bar, Ocamb said his Navy customers "seemed quite happy" about the attack.

"It's kind of like the Israelis. At least they retaliate," said Ocamb, a retired Navy chief. "You're going to get bombed whether you like it or not. You might as well retaliate."

Deborah Ignao, 28, a Smokie clerk and wife of a sailor due to head to sea soon, said her 8-year-old daughter begged her father, " 'Please, please don't go on that ship.' She had a real bad dream."

Along the resort strip awaiting summer's crowds, two friends discussed Libya over breakfast.

Bobby Dozier, 26, a college student and hotel employe, said, "I got a more sober reaction when Reagan said he had absolute evidence" linking last week's bombing at a Berlin bar to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

"I can't see my president lying on national television," said Dozier.

Michael Davis, 33, a photographer, said, "There's a lot of macho posturing. I'd like people to think about the repercussions down the road."