Family Service

Evidenced by the sounds of marine choppers overhead, naval ships docking in the San Diego Bay and the 17-mile-long strip of Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base camp, San Diego is clearly a hub for military activity. With this heavy local concentration of the armed forces, the lives of many TPHS families are impacted by the military.

For TPHS students, their parents’ service can be a point of pride; however, it can also bring challenges, especially when their parents are deployed.

For Faith Bailey (11), whose mother previously served in the Air Force and father serves in the Army, this rings especially true; Bailey and her father used to run together before he enlisted. Now, she often finds herself going on runs by herself to “withhold that feeling” of her father’s absence.

Jacob Cava (11) also held onto the things that reminded him of his father, Mike Cava, during his deployment. Mike recently retired after 22 years in the Marine Corps. Jacob was often reminded of his father’s absence through the frequent sight of American flags and the persistent sounds of thenational anthem in his elementary school in North Carolina, where he used to live.

A year after Digital Art & Design teacher John Sciarratta enlisted in the Marine Corps, he was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He soon received word that he would be put on a battlefield some 7,000 miles from home.

“In my 39 years of life, the hardest phone call I have had to make is telling my mother that I had to go to war,” Sciarratta said.

While worries for their family members’ safety occupy the minds of those left at home, Jacob and Bailey were able to communicate with their fathers by sending letters and occasional packages.

“We would send candy and packages when we were able to,” Jacob said.

Families also cope with the distance of deployment by leaning on each other. Jacob said that his mother received support from relatives and other military spouses while his father was away.

“She had a pyramid of support,” Jacob said. “She had a lot of military moms [who would] babysit and they would all go grocery shopping together.”

While Jacob’s father was away, support also came from Jacob’s older brother, Michael Cava (‘20).

“[Michael] is definitely one of my greatest inspirations,” Jacob said.

Despite the distance that deployment can bring to military families, this challenge can still bring families closer together.

“We value being a family the most and really make sure to emphasize it and keep in contact very, very often when we are apart,” Bailey said.

Similarly, Jacob felt that frequent national and international moves kept his family tight-knit, and heavily contributed to their bond.

Aside from the family left at home, veterans are also faced with challenges for themselves upon retirement.

According to retired TPHS history teacher Lars Trupe and Sciarratta, the memories of war come in all shapes and sizes: the need to always identify an exit, the ability to convince their minds that the piece of trash on the side of the road is not a bomb and even the necessity always to be stationed in a corner of a room, since it is the sturdiest place to be.

“You smell a certain smell and you’re like ‘Oh my gosh, that was like the Euphrates.’ Or, when I eat certain foods, it brings you back to what the locals would make for you,” Sciarratta said.

With the memories of service, veterans often find it hard transitioning back into life back at home. After being discharged from the military, veterans are often supported by their families to adjust to everyday life.

“For the most part, I feel that friends and family already knew they had to be supportive, because that’s what I was going to need,” Sciarratta said.

Despite all the physical and mental challenges that being in the service entails, many still follow in their family members’ footsteps and join the service.

Michael Cava is currently enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program while he wraps up his senior year of college at the University of Southern California.

Trupe also followed a deep family tradition with relatives in the military all the way back to the Civil War, which led him to join the Air Force himself.

When Trupe was asked, “When did you join the military?” he replied, “When I was born.”

While the military helps those serving find themselves, the thought of home is priceless.

“My favorite [memory] has to be when my dad came home a week early when I was in seventh grade and surprised me and my siblings after school,” Bailey said. “It was super genuine and something I’ll always remember.”

These memories stay with Bailey while her father is deployed.

“It’s really sad when my dad has to go off on assignments because it’s like something is missing from our regular everyday life,” Bailey said. “I start to realize just how much I miss him.”

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