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FORT LUPTON — Home is where the heart is.
And for local soldier Felix Ramirez, a recent 10-day respite was a welcome break from his work as a member …
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FORT LUPTON — Home is where the heart is.
And for local soldier Felix Ramirez, a recent 10-day respite was a welcome break from his work as a member of the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
“It’s unique but it’s rewarding at the same time,” Ramirez said as he settled into a couch at the Fort Lupton home of his parents, Martha and Lucino Ramirez. “It’s weird coming back home, being gone for so long, readjusting for the 10 days and having to go back.”
Ramirez, a 2004 Fort Lupton High School graduate, spent much of the past year in Afghanistan as part of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, based out of Fort Campbell, Ky. The Army Specialist is tasked with the repair of air traffic control equipment. It is Ramirez’ second deployment in four years. He also served a tour in Iraq from 2007 to 2009.
While Ramirez, 25, might have known better what to expect on his second tour in a war zone, it didn’t make it easier. It meant saying goodbye to his wife, Sarah, and their children, Marissa, 4, and Ben, 1. Goodbyes have become commonplace for Felix and Sarah. They were only married three months when Felix deployed for the first time in the fall of 2007.
“With us, we were already on that personal level even though we’ve been apart most of our marriage, Sarah said. “We’re still very close even though we haven’t spent a lot of time together.”
They keep their union strong with communication through journaling, telephone calls and web cam visits.
Beyond marriage, it has meant missing milestones in the lives of his children.
“I missed (Marissa) walking, I missed her crawling, missed her say her first words, everything,” Felix said.
“When he’s home, both of them are all over their dad,” Sarah added.
Felix’s arrival – delayed until just two days before Christmas because of poor weather – brought anticipation from the kids usually reserved for another Christmas-time visitor, Santa.
“I’d laid her down and said, ‘You’ll see him in the morning,’” Sarah said.
“No,” Marissa replied. “I’m going to stay awake.”
Felix was anxious, too. But the nerves of the long trip home all went away for Felix when he touched down at Denver International Airport.
“It was hard being stuck in Kuwait for two days and then trying to get here before Christmas,” he said. “Once we were in flight, once I knew I was getting here, once I landed here, that’s when I knew I’m home. Now I can relax.
“Coming up the escalators from the concourse, from the train, and seeing my family with a Welcome Home banner,” he added.
It was special for his mom, Martha, to watch, too.
“The look on Marissa’s face was priceless,” she said. “It really was.”
Felix, who was honored in 2008 as the grand marshal of the Trapper Days parade, said it was also good to see Fort Lupton again.
“I love Fort Lupton,” he said. “Fort Lupton is always going to be my home. When I am deployed, I still look up the news that comes out of Fort Lupton online.”
He said he is grateful that so many residents keep him in their thoughts and prayers and send him care packages. He finds comfort coming back home because he sees similarity between the town and his Army family.
“I like the way Fort Lupton is,” he said. “It’s still a small, quaint town. Everybody knows everybody. That’s the way I like it. That’s the way the Army community is as well. We live on base and everyone knows who we are. Our neighbors take care of us and we take care of our neighbors, just like in Fort Lupton.”
Felix’s brief stay in Fort Lupton ended Saturday when he headed back to Afghanistan to finish his tour. Sarah and the kids, meanwhile, returned to their home at Fort Campbell to await his homecoming at the end of his tour in February. Felix recently re-enlisted in the Army for an additional six years. He will be home at least a year before he is deployed again.
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