A Soldier's Father

Mixed emotions when saying goodbye to my warrior son as he goes off to Iraq

By Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr.
Published on LatinoLA: May 2, 2009

A Soldier's Father

I try to keep out of the way and let my kids live their own life. I wasn't always like this when they were younger but now that they are grown ... adults ... I support them and try to help.

Cristofer, my second eldest son, had an almost full-ride scholarship to Tulane University. When he came home for Christmas a while back, he said he was leaving school and joining the Army. That was his life-long dream. So, why didn't he tell me before? My other son, Michael, was in the Army, I served a couple years, myself. No big deal.

He joined, became a medic, was stationed in New Jersey, then Alaska. We visited him when he married and his child, our first granddaughter, was born.

He was soldier and would have stayed in except his marriage turned sour. He took custody of his daughter and the Army life wasn't in her best interests, so he left, came back to L.A. and they lived with us for a few years. Joined the National Guard. Went to PCC, was on his way to become an MD. But when he got deployed, to Ft. Irwin near Barstow, he met Danielle, also in the National Guard, and they married. They both agreed, and he re-enlisted.

He went to Iraq once. And now he's going again, leaving tomorrow.

As a father, it's hard to see your children make decisions you don't agree with. But a good father supports their children. And I strive to be a good father.

Although the situation in Iraq is not what it was when my oldest boy, Michael, was there (two tours), it's still fraught with danger and uncertainty. That, plus the separation from family -- his wife, and now, three daughters, my granddaughters -- makes any tour of duty a nerve-wracking, worrying and an uncertain exercise.

i respect what he does. He is a warrior. Unfortunately, our last president put us in this unnecessary war. And our present president isn't moving as fast as I think he should to bring the troops home. He is ... we are ... paying for Bush's hubris.

But I leave that aside and pray for his safe return. I am not enthusiastic that he is a soldier, that is is stepping up for all of us, but I am proud of him and will help him and his family .... my family .... as much as possible, until he returns, safely.

Please send good thoughts to Cristofer L. de la Pe??a, Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army.

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