I just read a great story. It’s about a 20-year-old girl who moved back home to take care of her four little sisters while her Mom and step-Dad were deployed to Iraq. It’s another example of the sacrifices made not only on the battlefield, but at home as well.
This is Sgt Gary Smith and his wife Sgt Claudia Hernandez-Smith. They were deployed jointly to Iraq in April. They requested the joint deployment knowing that they younger girls would be taken care of by their oldest sister, Audrey Delgadillo and so that husband and wife would be able to stay together as well.
A picture of her mother and stepfather hangs on the living room’s foyer. He is in his Army regalia, she in a sleek black dress.”I told my mom, ‘Don’t ever feel like you put this on me,’ ” Delgadillo says. “It was my decision, and we knew since she joined the Army that one day she was going to be called.”
That call came last April.
Her mother, an Army Reservist for the last decade, was working with the Census Bureau in Azusa. Her stepfather, a helicopter crew chief, had just returned from more than a yearlong tour in Iraq.
There was never any doubt that Sgt. Hernandez-Smith would answer the call, but her husband also wanted to return for his wife’s first tour of duty. She left that April; he followed three months later.
“We as a family decided that I should go with her to try and help her with being away from the girls,” Smith said. “Plus, I was worried for her safety and wanted to keep an eye out for her.”
These are their girls (left to right) Grace 10, Audrey 20, Emily 3, Ashley 4 and Stephanie 17. It’s been hard on all of them, but Audrey assures her mother that this responsibility wasn’t pushed on her and that she chose to do it. Yes, she is missing time with her fiance and she’s finding that being a parent is a really hard job, but she knows that she is doing the right thing.
The family of sisters sits down for dinner and gathers around the TV to watch an Animal Planet special on wolves. Afterward, Delgadillo coaxes Emily and Ashley into bed, a nightly battle of wills that can last two hours.
The girls say Delgadillo is more lenient than their mother. But if anyone messes up, Iraq is only an e-mail away.
“My mom is still the law in this house,” Delgadillo says.
“She’s just far away. The only difference is that now she does her yelling in all caps.”