(Reprint from ABC News, March 12, 2004)Like Son, Like Father
Marine Dad Follows Son Back to Iraq
One year ago U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Ron Spears was preparing
to race into Iraq in the American-led invasion.
He made it to Baghdad and served out his deployment, then returned home to his wife, Trudy, in Florida. The week he came home, his son, Marine Reservist Pfc. Aaron Spears, was entering boot camp at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
"When you're a father you pick up a little responsibility," Ron Spears said. "I feel almost responsible that my son joined the Marine Corps. He followed in my footsteps."
Spears never thought his son would get the call to deploy. But after his infantry training, Aaron was activated in December.
"When I first discovered that his unit was activated, that he would be going, yes, my heart sank into my stomach," Spears said. "Even though he's a Marine, he still obviously is my son. And even though I'm a Marine, I still shed a tear from time to time, believe it or not, mostly over family things."
A Tough Decision
At that point, he made a tough choice. Spears volunteered to return to Iraq to be closer to his only son. They both arrived this week, though with different units.
"It's not like I am in any position that I can do anything for him," Spears said. "But I would feel like I'm enduring what he's enduring."
Spears returned to Baghdad, while his son has been sent to the barren desert of western Iraq.
"He and I feel like we're both just doing our parts as Marines. In his terms, it
would be 'cool' to be able to do it together," Spears said. "Even though
together might be 50 miles apart."
"I just want to be able to do my job as a Marine while my son is doing his job as a Marine," Spears said. "And 20 years from now we can both say, 'We did that.' "
For the second time in a year, Trudy Spears is learning to take it all in stride.
"I'm not crazy about him going back. I'm not crazy about Aaron being there," she said. But she added: "I'm not worried. I know they know what they are doing."
For her husband and son, now serving together in the war zone, there is at least some comfort.
"I happen to be in country, he happens to be in country, so I'm setting my goals very low: that I hope to see him at least once," Spears said.