Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville soldier is back home

Leader editor

When William Montgomery expected that his sons would join the military, he knew that serving in a war would be a possibility. But he could not have imagined the sacrifice required by the families of military members until one of his sons was deployed to Iraq.

Montgomery tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in his front yard in the Foxcroft neighborhood in Jacksonville to honor his son’s service and to let anyone who drove by his house know that he had a family member deployed in Iraq.

His son, Army Spc. William Saucida, 22, helped him cut the ribbon soon after he returned home.

William, known as Clinton to his family and friends (an homage to the former president, according to his father), returned on March 21 to Fort Sill, Okla., where he is stationed with the Army. He was in Jacksonville to visit his family last week.

“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve had,” he said about being home with his family. He will serve in the Army for another five years and will wait for orders to return overseas during that time.

While he was in Iraq, his wife Kristina took care of their son, Dillon, who was just a month old when he was deployed.

“It was difficult,” Saucida said about being away from his newborn baby. But, he said, he was comforted that his son’s grandmothers were both helping Kristina take care of Dillon while he was deployed.

“I wished I was there to help out,” he said.

He was able to see Dillon grow by talking almost every night through a webcam with his wife while she held their baby.

He is just now getting to know Dillon in person. “I’m trying to do everything I can to hang out,” Saucida said.

While staying in Jacksonville, he went bowling, out to eat and to the movies with his parents, wife and his wife’s parents, who also live in Jacksonville.

Saudica went to Jacksonville Elementary School and Jacksonville High School.

He enlisted in the Army when he was 18.

He was stationed in Takrit at Contingency Operating Base Speicher. At Speicher, he tracked indirect fire to determine if the base was under attack. The base is named after Scott Speicher, a Navy pilot who has been missing in action in Iraq since 1991 when his helicopter was shot down. His body was never returned to the United States.

Montgomery is not Saucida’s biological father but raised him and considers him his son. He said that his neighbors’ support for his family while his son was deployed is a “tearjerker.”

One neighbor also tied a yellow ribbon to a tree in his front yard and removed it once he heard Saucida was back home.

“We had good days and bad days,” Montgomery said about his son’s deployment. “It’s a big blessing now that he’s home.”

Montgomery said his son’s return has given him a different perspective on life. “People are always complaining about small things,” he said. “We are blessed,” he added.

“It feels good because they are taking care of us,” Montgomery reflected on his son being in Iraq. “But we’re parents and we wonder about them every day.”

He talked to his son about once every six weeks during the deployment. Montgomery, who works in a funeral home in Little Rock, made care packages for Saucida with his co-workers. He will soon be sending care packages to Afghanistan when their other son, Christopher Saucida, 23, of Fort Hood, Texas, is deployed there in December.

Montgomery also made Saucida a scrapbook with pictures of Dillon so that he would have a record of all the milestones babies have in the first year.

Now, Saucida is enjoying well-earned time with his son. Thanks to technology, “he recognizes me,” Clinton said.