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‘I’d rather it be me over there’

April E. Clark
Vail, CO Colorado
April E. Clark/Post IndependentArmy staff sergeant Trent Tharp and his 3-month-old son Grayson enjoy time together at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs Friday. Tharp is on two-week leave from his deployment in Iraq to meet his son for the first time since his birth.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Bethany Tharp is outnumbered.

On Friday, the lone female in her seven-member household was seated at a picnic table at Two Rivers Park in West Glenwood, the males in her family surrounding her.

All six of them.

There’s her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Trent Tharp, who’s home on leave from Iraq for two weeks to see their 3-month-old son Grayson for the first time. And don’t forget 13-year-old Taylor, 12-year-old Shea, 9-year-old Kobe and 6-year-old Breccen.

“It’s very hectic with five boys,” Bethany Tharp said. “It takes a lot to be a military wife and raise your family alone.”

Trent Tharp is well aware how much his family misses him when he’s deployed overseas. This is his second tour of duty in Iraq ” the first was in 2004.

“The spouses have it really hard,” Trent Tharp said. “We’re over there getting shot at, but they’re back home taking care of sick kids and getting them to soccer practice.”

During his two-week visit home, Trent Tharp and his boys are doing some serious bonding time. Through Operation Vacation ” which hosts military personnel for an all expenses-paid vacation in Glenwood Springs ” the family is skiing, flying over Mt. Sopris in an airplane, eating out, and going to the Hot Springs Pool.

“You do your hardest to be a family for these two weeks,” Bethany said. “It’s hard, it’s a lot of emotional give-and-take. And a lot of family time.”

Bethany Tharp is thankful for the bonding moments her husband is able to share with their new baby. And she likes to see the older boys hang out, even rough-house, with their dad.

“I love my family very much, and I love my dad,” 6-year-old Breccen said, after playing in the park with his brothers. “I miss playing with him and (play) fighting with him.”

Taylor Webb, Trent Tharp’s oldest son, said he misses everything about his dad when he’s deployed.

“There’s a lot of stuff,” said Taylor, about memories of his dad over the years. “The thing I probably remember the most is when he taught us to cut waffles with a fork.”

Family bonding time means everything to Trent Tharp, a Rifle High School graduate whose brother, Craig, was stationed in Iraq at the same base before returning to Ft. Hood in Texas last November. Trent Tharp could have returned in December for his youngest son’s delivery, but there were five other troops who would have missed their first-born children’s’ births.

A staff sergeant and squad leader, Trent Tharp’s always cognizant of his role in the military. His job in Iraq is one he firmly stands behind, despite how many Americans feel about the war.

“I really hate being away from my family … But we are accomplishing things over there,” he said. “It’s gotten a lot better since we first went over there. I’m seeing women driving now, and I didn’t see that before. I’d rather it be me over there for 10 years than my boys going over there to finish it.”

For the next week, Trent Tharp, his wife, and his kids will make the most of their short-lived reunion.

Then, on March 31, he’ll head back to Iraq.

“That day’s the worst,” Bethany Tharp said. “I cry. Lots and lots of crying. He usually gets up early to say good-bye to the boys. Then I watch him leave in the shuttle.”

Trent Tharp agreed the day he departs for deployment is never easy.

“I try not to look back, but I always do,” he said. “I always try to get one more last look.”

But after he leaves, Bethany Tharp has the five boys to keep her strong.


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