Richard Olivella on a phone call with
his family during his military service in the U.S Army, which
started in 1978.
June 14, 2012 - My amazing dad, Richard Olivella, enlisted in the
U.S. Army in May 1978 shortly after high school. He wanted to serve
a purpose and what better way than by serving your country.
A vivid memory of my childhood was when we were stationed at Ft.
Drum, New York where my dad was part of the 10th Mountain Division.
I was in second grade when I overheard my dad tell my mom about an
upcoming humanitarian deployment to Somalia. At that time I really
didn't understand, but I saw the look on my mother's face. I was one
of three and I was the oldest. I think back now and can only imagine
what went through her head knowing that her husband was about to
take off to another country leaving her behind with three little
She didn't react, as far as I can remember, in front of
us three children, but I'm sure she knew that was part of the game
being an Army wife. It was brought to our attention
that daddy would be leaving for a little bit but that he would make
certain to write every chance he could get. He reminded us that we
were to behave and help mommy and that my younger brother would now
be the “man of the house.”
It didn't quite click, until I saw my dad dressed
head to toe in his fatigues. It looked like he had packed
his life backpack.
We drove him to the base where we
saw more soldiers wearing the same uniform and carrying the
same bag. They were all lined up in front of parked buses.
Dad got out of the car and we all lined up as we hugged and
kissed him goodbye. Mom huddled all three of us in the dark
as we waited for the buses to take off. All I remember was
dad pushing his window down waving good bye and saying “I
Love you!” Mom's eyes were watery but she remained strong
telling us to get in the car.
Days went by and I noticed dad
wasn't home. I know sometimes I'd ask where he was and mom
would tell me, “He's in the field.” This time though, it was
a lot longer. We started attending more functions at the
youth center and playing with kids who didn't have their
dad's around either. Now, I look back and see that it was
more of a support for all families whose loved ones were off
wherever duty called. We would go to the commissary and buy
all these treats like beef jerky, cookies, and cadies dad.
Every couple weeks, mom would pack him up a box.
After what seemed like forever, mom got extremely excited
and said we were off to get daddy. We my siblings and I got
so excited. I remember going to a decorated gymnasium on
base; it was decorated with handmade posters, balloons, and
ribbon. It was the most inviting place I have ever been to
yet in my life. Everybody's faces were filled with joy. I
didn't understand why everyone was so happy and literally
jumping up and down full of excitement. I just knew I was
there to see my dad.
All of a sudden it seemed like
the whole place was silent for one second and we all looked
in the same direction to see an Army full of men and women.
They walked in looking just as how they looked when we last
saw them in the same attire and large bags. Then a soldier
started singing “Proud to be an American” while mom was
frantically moving her head looking for dad. After what
seemed like forever, we saw dad. He had the biggest smile on
his face and dropped everything to greet mom. My siblings
and I started jumping up and down. We felt so happy. It was
a happiness I could never compare to any other moment
because this was a moment that will always go down in
history. It acts as a reminder of the first time I felt what
it was to miss someone close and to celebrate their return.
I'll forever treasure that moment in my life.
consider myself so privileged to have experience life as an
Army brat. The life is not like any other. People around
your community and the base became your family. Friends
could sympathize with one another because nine times out of
10 they were feeling and experiencing the same thing. We got
to explore so many different areas and gain a piece of the
military that will always lie within my heart.
my mother and father are my heroes in so many different
ways. I'll always tend to sway more towards my dad's side
but that's only because I'm a daddy's girl at heart. The
Army is what I know as childhood and I'll forever cherish
it. Anytime I see soldiers coming back home and they're
children running towards them, emotions take over because it
brings me back to being a little girl and lets me know these
children were missing someone important.
a soldier and an Army wife both have are remarkable and
can't be compared. But can only be defined in their own way
and it should always demand respect because of the courage
they both have. I'm an extremely lucky woman. And dad, Happy
Father's Day. You're forever my hero and my rock. Love you
always and thank you for instilling in me what it is to
appreciate life and taking it with a grain of salt. Life
isn't always fair, but no one said it would ever be easy....
It would just be worth it.
By Jacelyn Olivella
Department of Veterans Affairs - Vantage Point
About Author: Jacelyn Olivella is a Contract Specialist for
the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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