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PEP Feb 2004
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Public Employee Press

Families proud and prayerful
Loved ones in the combat zone
Strong emotions govern the feelings of the union parents of sons and daughters serving in Iraq, as they await the soldiers’ safe return.

   
 

Col. Ralph Sabatino (l.), Judge Advocate General’s staff, in Iraq. “We pray for him every day. There is nothing else we can do,” says his father, Rick Sabatino, Court Aide, Kings County Court, and a member of Local 1070.

 

War In Iraq

Soldiers in Iraq face death daily, but their families at home share the pain and pride of war. PEP interviewed four Local 1070 families whose sons and daughters are in the combat zone or have recently returned.

Hawa Barkon is a Secretary at the Dept. of Probation and the proud mother of Jukue Sieh, 25, a tank specialist. The 25-year-old shipped out of Ft. Hood, Texas with the 4th Infantry Division in April 2003 and returned on New Year’s Eve. “In his first letter home, he wrote that he had lost a lot of weight and that things were very difficult for his battalion,” said his mother, a member of Court, County and Dept. of Probation Employees Local 1070.

Angelef Holguin is a Senior Interpreter at the Bronx Criminal Court and the mother of three daughters. Daughter Jessica — Sgt. Holguin — has been serving in Iraq since January 2003 as part of a Command Post Communications Unit.

Jessica’s daughter — Jessica Jr., as her grandmother calls her — is now living with grandma. “In the beginning, she was very sad. I tell her: You’re the daughter of a soldier,” said Ms. Holguin. “She’s very proud of her mother. Jessica gave an oral report in school about her mother as part of a program for the children of soldiers serving in Iraq.”


Sgt. Jessica Holguin,
U.S. Army, in Iraq.
“As a mother, I have mixed feelings,” says Local 1070’s Angelef Holguin.

Thankful mother
Baccus Jaddah, U.S. Marine Corps, is the son of James and Local 1070’s Catherine Jaddah. Cpl. Jaddah, a logistics planner, went to Iraq in February 2003 and returned to the U.S. in July. “As a mother, I’m so proud of him and thankful that he returned home safely,” said Mrs. Jaddah. “He doesn’t say much about the war. He doesn’t want to talk about it.”

Rick Sabatino, a Court Aide at Kings County Court, is the father of Col. Ralph Sabatino. Col. Sabatino, a member of JAG — the Judge Advocate General’s staff, has been serving in Iraq since March 2003.

“He was the first in his Army Reserve unit to be called up,” explained his father. Before he was called to active duty, Col. Sabatino served as the head of a Corporation Council office on Staten Island. Now, the senior Sabatino writes to his son every week. “He hasn’t written back in four weeks,” said Mr. Sabatino. “He’s so busy, traveling all around Iraq.”

While the national debate about the war continues, the parents of these soldiers do not want to take public positions in that discussion. Their thoughts — as photos of fallen soldiers flash across the television screen and the casualties mount — are with their loved ones. Sgt. Holguin is due to return home in February and Col. Sabatino is due in March. “His time is supposed to be up then,” said Mr. Sabatino. “We pray for him every day. There’s nothing else we can do.”

— Jane LaTour

 

 
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