Monday, November 17, 2003
On Thursday, a 1998 Soroco High School graduate shipped off from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for Iraq.
Air Force Senior Airman Joseph P. Moniz IV, affectionately known as Joe, 23, enlisted in the Air Force before graduating high school and re-enlisted last year. His father, Joseph P. Moniz III, said his son is making a career out of the military, much as the elder Moniz did in his 20 years of service in the Army, beginning in 1971.
Joe is in the motor battalion, operating heavy equipment and transports for his fellow troops. Because of military regulations, his family does not know exactly where he'll be sent.
This is not his first trip to the Middle East. Joe was stationed at an Air Force base in Saudi Arabia for four months two years ago, as part of a rotating crew that serves in that area, Moniz III said. H was not involved in combat there. In Iraq, Moniz III said he thinks his son will be involved in combat, but said, "I don't even worry about it. You can't change it by worrying about it. That's just the way it is right now.
"Quite honestly, it's not necessarily a bad thing (that he will be in combat). We've all got a life to lead, and we choose different paths. But who's to say which one is more dangerous. I thought it was dangerous driving in the snow back from Denver today, so it's not one of those things I fret over.
"The most important thing, I tell him, is to be right with your God. That's where it all goes in the end anyhow," the elder Moniz said.
Joe soon could be sharing the company of his stepsister, Michelle Biles, 19, another Soroco graduate, who is soon joining the Army in hopes of being in the military police.
The Moniz family lives about four miles from Oak Creek on Twentymile Road, where young Joe grew up -- and brought home underachieving grades.
"Prior to him going into the service, we didn't get along because of school," said Anna Creason, Joe's stepmother. "That's because school is the most important thing to me. He brought home Ds just because he didn't feel like doing the work. He knows he could have done better."
Since enlisting, Joe has sent letters to Creason apologizing for his poor academic performance, saying he realizes the importance now.
But Joe is getting his education and moving up in his career through the military. Dec. 1, he will be promoted to staff sergeant.
Moniz III said his 20 years in the Army probably helped in Joe's decision to enlist, but he thinks Joe made the decision on his own, much as Moniz III did. Moniz III was the first in his family, besides an uncle, to enlist in the military.
"We're very proud of him for serving our country," Creason said. "He's one of the younger ones in his company going over there, but he's taking charge. He's getting the older guys fired up. He knows where he is going."
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