COMBAT OUTPOST RAWA, Iraq -- While on a site survey mission visiting Sailors and contractors in the Al Anbar region of Iraq April 25, Navy Capt. Garry Mace saw his son, Lance Cpl. Joshua Mace, for the first time in more than 16 months.
Mace, commander of the Baghdad-based Joint Crew Composite Squadron 1 and his son, a Marine Scout assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at Rawa, hadn’t seen each other since December 2005 due to conflicting deployment schedules. The younger Mace joined the Marine Corps in March 2004 while his father served in the Navy as an F/A 18 fighter pilot.
“It was great seeing Josh,” said Mace senior. “The last time I saw him was Christmas 2005 in Japan. I really missed him and being able to see him healthy and in such great spirits takes the anxiety out of knowing he’s here in Iraq.”
Father and son have kept in routine contact over the phone and by email and had speculated about how interesting it would be to finally see each other in Iraq.
“It certainly was a surprise,” said the younger Mace. “It’s not like everybody gets to see their Dad in Iraq.”
Part of Mace’s visit to Al Anbar included observing convoy operations and how his JCCS-1 team at Rawa train the Marines on Counter-Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare procedures. For the younger Mace, seeing his father at work in an environment traditionally foreign for a Navy fighter pilot and more natural for a Marine gave him mixed feelings.
“This is what I study – dense city fighting and my Dad got to go on a patrol in my AO (area of operations) without me. It was a big change of pace seeing him in flak and Kevlar instead of a flight suit. It does make me worry,” said the younger Mace.
During their off-hours during the senior Mace’s nearly two-day stop at Rawa, the Mace’s talked about family back in Virginia, about the younger Mace’s twin brother Jason – a U.S. Army soldier deploying to Afghanistan this month – and they called back home.
“I think it was very comforting for my wife to be able to talk to us and know that we were in each other’s company in a combat zone,” said the elder Mace.
The two watched the movie ‘Hot Shots’- “We watched a lot of those types of movies – pilot movies -- together when I was growing up,” said the younger Mace – and spent hours into the evening talking about their experiences so far in Iraq and about their respective units.
“I could tell Josh truly likes his job and he’s proud of the success of the battalion,” said the elder Mace. “I’m extremely proud of my sons. I have great respect for the both the Marines and the Army and I am extremely proud of my sons’ choices. While I can’t deny that I worry about them like any other parent, I take comfort in the fact that they enjoy what they do, are well trained, believe in their mission and are in the hands of good leaders.”