Bereaved father wants war to end
AVON – Astor Sunsin stares forward, arms crossed, as he describes his relationship with his only son before he was killed in Iraq. Sometimes Sunsin looks enraged. Other times he appears listless, then despondent, as he tersely answers questions in a relative’s Avon home. “I’ve tried to accept the situation, but I cannot do it,” Sunsin said, speaking through an interpreter. Sunsin’s son, Astor A. Sunsin-Pineda, a 20-year-old combat engineer for the U.S. Army, was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad as he was driving a truck May 2. Since then, the elder Sunsin has taken leave from his job at Vail’s City Market, takes pills to sleep and cannot think about anything else but his son, he said.Sunsin thinks about when his son was a baby, when they used to play soccer together and their last day together in Avon, he said.
“I feel like any father would feel when his son died,” Sunsin said. In 1994, 8-year-old Sunsin-Pineda came to the United States with his mother from San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Sunsin followed them to the United States, and in 1996 he divorced his wife, who moved to California with his son.Sunsin didn’t see his son for five years because he had to work too hard for a better life, he said. Starting at age 13, Sunsin-Pineda visited his father once or twice each year at his father’s home in the Vail Valley. Sunsin enjoyed shopping and playing soccer with his son, but he never got to see him enough, he said. Meanwhile, Sunsin-Pineda grew up and graduated from high school in Long Beach, Calif. Sunsin saw his son for the last time in January when he visited for a week and then left with a friend to drive to Fort Riley, Kan.
Sunsin-Pineda wanted to join the Army, Sunsin said. An uncle in the Honduran army inspired him, and the U.S. Army promised him a great deal, such as money for college, Sunsin said.Sunsin was proud when military officials selected him among Spanish-speaking soldiers to be featured in a recruiting video shown on Spanish-language TV stations, he said.In Iraq, Sunsin-Pineda called his father every day, Sunsin said.Sunsin-Pineda knew his father was in the hospital because of complications from high blood pressure, but he didn’t call that Tuesday in May – he died that day, Sunsin said. Sunsin now has strong feelings about the war in Iraq. He has asked that the recruiting video not be shown so that other young Hispanics will not be tempted to go to Iraq, he said. “Young people shouldn’t go into the Army,” he said. “That’s the worst thing they can do.”
He thinks President Bush has bad ideas, he said. “I want to tell the president to stop the war because people are dying every day,” he said. Sunsin wants people to remember that his son was content and that he went to church, he said. For more than six years, Sunsin worked at City Market in Avon and Vail from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., so he could not attend church, he said. After Sunsin’s son died, Sunsin’s doctor told him to change to a day shift to improve his health. Sunsin is most proud that his son was a devout Christian, he said. “My son went to church, so my son is with God,” he said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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