Marine coming home to Vail Valley for holidays
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado -Ida Deloera will get the best Christmas present she could ask for this holiday season. Her son, Cesar Gonzalez, returned from his deployment in Afghanistan and will be home in the Vail Valley for New Year’s Eve.
As Deloera cooks dinner inside her Edwards trailer recently, she laughs and smiles. There’s no trace of the worry that plagued her during the seven months her son served in Afghanistan.
“All we could do was say: God please take care of him and hope we hear from him,” she said.
Gonzalez, a 22-year-old U.S. Marine sergeant, returned to his Oceanside, Calif., home earlier this month. It had been his first deployment away from his wife since the couple married, and he was excited to be back in time for the holidays.
“It was amazing,” he said. “We actually got back the day of our anniversary, so I got back right on time.”
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Gonzalez said he had been stationed in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. He spent most of his time tracking mortars and rockets that al-Qaida shot at American forces. Using special radar technology, the Red Canyon High School alumnus would pinpoint where the artillery came from.
Gonzalez said he had volunteered to go to Afghanistan after serving two tours of duty in Iraq.
When he first arrived in Afghanistan, the camps were sparse, making communicating with family difficult. Deloera said she received just four phone calls from her son over the seven months.
“It’s tough for us when we don’t hear from him,” she said “We don’t know what’s going on. Moms think the worst. I don’t know why moms think the worst but we do.”
Gonzalez said his job kept him on base most of the time.
“As far as gunfighting: Thank God nobody got into one while we were down there so all of our guys are good,” he said.
Afghanistan is a far cry from the Vail Valley where Gonzalez spent most of his youth.
“It is a whole different world,” he said. “In Afghanistan, there is only one road, and it makes a complete circle all the way around the country. Everything else is just dirt roads. The only houses I saw were mud huts. As far as vehicles, they’re big on carpooling. I saw 17 people get out of a little Toyota pickup once.”
When President Barack Obama ordered another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan last month, Deloera wasn’t too surprised. She said a gut feeling told her she wouldn’t see the troops withdrawn from those war zones in her lifetime.
“Since day one when they said they were pulling all the troops out, I didn’t believe it,” she said.
Gonzalez said he thinks the additional troops are not that bad of an idea.
“If we’re going to stay there and really make an impression, we need to do it right and not hold anything back,” he said. “If more troops are what it’s going to take to get al-Qaida out of the country, I’m all for it.”
As for Gonzalez’s next step, he has applied to serve as a drill instructor at a military depot in San Diego, Calif. He said he put in for the job because Marines must spend three years in an educational role after they have been enlisted for a certain amount of time.
In the meantime, Deloera plans to enjoy some precious time with her son over New Year’s.
“I’m a proud mom, you can tell,” she said, gesturing to pictures of her son in uniform.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.