Precinct 333

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Widow And Children Soldier On

In time of war, we often see the name of a soldier, dead too soon, in the local paper. Perhaps we get funeral coverage if it is a local hero. But rarely to we hear more, about the struggles of those left behind. Today's Houston Chronicle shares one such story.

Karren Warren / Chronicle
Patty Mora Guereca, whose husband, Jose Guereca Jr.,
was killed in Iraq in November, is left with four children,
from left, 5-year-old twins Angel and Nathan, Jose, 2
months, and Rolando, 7.

MISSOURI CITY - Her daily dreams are vivid and always include her husband, Sgt. Jose Guereca. The dreams always end with Guereca not coming home.

The 24-year-old Army sergeant died Nov. 30 in Iraq during his second tour of duty to the war-torn nation. He was the 25th Houston-area service member to die in the war.

"I miss him so much. The kids miss him, too," said Patty Mora Guereca, 23, who was left a widow with four boys younger than 7. When her husband died, Patty Guereca was seven months pregnant with the couple's fourth child.

The past few months for Guereca have been trying, to say the least. The young mother had to bury her husband, move herself and her then three children from Fort Hood to her mother's Missouri City home. She gave birth to her fourth child — Jose Alejandro Guereca III — on Jan. 11.

A month after the baby was born, Guereca headed to Fort Hood to tend to moving issues while her mother-in-law kept the newborn. Guereca ended up rushing back to Houston when the baby's congestion turned into a respiratory infection and pneumonia, and landed him at Texas Children's Hospital for four days.

For now, Guereca and the four children are living with her mother and a younger sister,although she intends to purchase a home in nearby Stafford soon. Life-insurance benefits, aid from the Veterans Administration and generous donations from the public have allowed her to stay home with her children and not have to work.

Even with the generosity of strangers, it won't be easy for Mrs. Guereca. Widowed at 23 with four young children. But she has an outlook that can only be admired -- an outlook she learned from her husband.

Normalcy for Guereca means getting up at 6 a.m. to get 7-year-old Rolando ready for first grade and at his bus stop by 7:10 a.m. She has a little down time in the afternoon after she drops off her 5-year-old twins, Nathan and Angel, for afternoon kindergarten.

"It's been hard," Guereca told the Chronicle. "But I just keep thinking of my husband. He was so positive. He'd say, 'For every problem, there's a solution.'

We have lost over 1500 soldiers in Iraq. I've not been able to locate a figure for those who have died in Afghanistan. I won't even pretend to be able to tabulate the number of those seriously wounded and left disabled in those theaters of war. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude. And we owe it to them to do what we can to help their families.


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