Some mothers and daughters bond over a shared interest of science fiction novels, or making big Italian meals, or their hatred of shoe shopping. But for Sgt. Marilyn Gonzalez and her daughter Spc. Jessica Pedraza, their bond comes from something a little more unusual -- the two served together in Kuwait and Iraq in 2010 after being called up from the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
Well, that's not exactly what happened. Sgt. Gonzalez was ordered to deploy, but her teenage daughter wouldn't let her go alone.
Spc. Pedraza was determined to accompany her mother to the Middle East, so she put college acceptances on hold and even learned how to be a truck driver, since those were needed, and not supply specialists.
Sgt. Gonzalez says she was "so angry" when she found out her daughter wanted to deploy ... but when they got to the desert, it sounds like all was forgiven. Gonzalez went about her duties all while finding time to sneak into her daughter's bunk and make her bed; she also admits to trying to steal hugs from Jessica whenever she could and that they exchanged verboten "I love you"s over the radio.
I can't imagine being 19 and following my mom into a war zone, not only because it's a war zone, but because at that age, I wanted as much independence as possible. I admire Spc. Pedraza's dedication to her mother and to her country. What she did seems extremely selfless and it appears the risk of her mother's ire and the risk of her own life paid off. She explains:
I think that we have the mother and daughter bond, and we have a soldiers' bond. There's just nothing more you can ask for.
Now that they're both back (and still in the Mass. Army National Guard), I hope Pedraza has picked up where she left off and is pursuing a college eduction. With her invaluable military experience and proven sticktoitiveness, there's nothing that can get in her way.
That said, I do hope she's responsible for making her own bed these days.
How would you feel if your teenager wanted to follow you into a war zone?
Photo via mschierbecker/Flickr