DESLOGE — Tom and Sandy Whaley are enjoying the time they are spending with their grandchildren this week.
Their son, Brad, is serving the U.S. military at an undisclosed location overseas. His children, 6-year-old Jordan and 3-year-old Makenna who live in North Carolina are spending the week with Grandma and Grandpa in Desloge since Jordan is on a break from school.
Brad, who is 26, has been a Marine for eight years. He had been stationed at Cherry Point, N.C., before he left for overseas in March. He is a maintenance control supervisor who is over 42 other servicemen.
“He’s very happy,” Sandy said. “He wants to make a career of this.”
When he gets back, he plans to attend drill instructor school in Paris Island, S.C.
Both Sandy and Tom are supportive of their son’s decision to be a career Marine. They believe it is important for their children to be happy with what they do. They have two other sons, Mark and Greg.
Both Mark and Brad got out of the service after their father got hurt. Mark had been in the Navy 12 years and got out permanently to be closer to his parents. He lives just a block away from his parents.
“They all came back home,” Sandy said. “Mark and Brad took leave to be with their dad and they helped each other move back to Missouri. Brad stayed at home and got a job at the airport in Chesterfield. He had a good job doing the same thing he had been doing in the military.
Brad lasted only a couple months.
“It just wasn’t the military,” Sandy said. “He hated it. He missed the military.”
Tom told Brad he should be in the military if that’s what he wants to do. Soon after, Brad went back.
“I’m proud of him,” Tom said. “He’s a good boy. He enjoys what he is doing — that’s the most important thing.”
Tom said he never thought Brad would have gone into the service but he is glad he did.
“He is still the same old Brad,” Tom said. “He’s just all military. He loves it and he will stay in 20 years or longer.”
While they are happy for him, they do miss him and worry about him.
“We really miss Brad,” she said. “We don’t know where he is or what he is doing. We know why he is doing this. We saw that. We saw kids in Iraq bowing down to these guys. It really touches my heart.”
The Whaleys are a very close family who spend holidays and weekends together when possible. Sandy had been used to talking to Brad every single day. With him overseas, she is not able to do that.
“He called last Wednesday to talk to the kids,” Sandy said. “Before that, it had been quite a while. He gets to e-mail, but not very often.”
The mail is really slow so they don’t write letters very often. The Whaleys sent a care package for him right after he left in January and he didn’t receive it until the middle of March.
When other Marines die, Brad tries to call home to let his parents know he is okay.
“He’s already lost a real good friend over there,” she said. “They knew going over there they wouldn’t see each other all together again. But they were willing to do that to fight for freedom.”
The Whaleys say a prayer for them every day and night that he will come home safe. Tom has done a lot of worrying and Sandy has done a lot of crying.
“I can’t accept anything else,” she said. “I would give my life for any of (my children or grandchildren). It helps having (the grandkids) home. It’s like having a piece of Brad here with us. I look at Jordan and I see him.”
Sandy said Jordan really misses his dad. He isn’t sure if dad will be home for his birthday. Brad will miss Makenna’s birthday.
“Daddy’s on a boat,” MaKenna said. “We have a picture (of him).”
Last week, Tom and Sandy let Jordan and Makenna watch the Iraqi people take down the statue of Saddam Hussein.
“I don’t remember his name,” Jordan said. “He’s bad. They knocked the statue over because they were tired of seeing it every day.”
Jordan has seen his dad at work and knows that he takes care of the jets.
“He puts oil in the jets,” Jordan said.
The kids are leaving for North Carolina Saturday. Before they go back, the kids will go fishing and to the zoo with their grandparents.
“I hate to take them back, but we have to,” said Sandy, who added she will probably be ready for a vacation by then.
After the grandchildren leave, there will still be little reminders of Brad around the home every where they look.
In their yard, they have a yellow bow tied around a tree and another one on the porch under the American flag. A wreath with the name Staff Sgt. Brad Whaley hangs on the front door. “Proud to be an American” and “United We Stand” stickers are in the window.
“We want everyone to know we are proud of our son,” she said. “Before Brad comes home I would like ribbons in every yard on this street to show our support.”
She believes people need to start supporting the troops more.
“How can we not support them?” she said.