By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Isaak Garcia thought that maybe, just maybe, his dad would make it back from Iraq in time to see his last baseball game. Maybe. And Sgt. 1st Class Isaac Garcia was supposed to be back to Killeen just in time to see that last game. Supposed to.

Garcia's flight and the flight of nearly 270 soldiers returning to Fort Hood was delayed. They were scheduled to return Monday, but didn't get back until Tuesday night. Most of those soldiers were from the 410th Military Police Company, 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade. The rest were from a Reserve unit based out of Charlotte, N.C., and a field artillery unit from Fort Polk, La.

Garcia belongs to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, a unit from the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. He deployed on Father's Day of last year and was attached to the Reservists from North Carolina.

Both Garcias love baseball and both Garcias missed that last game Tuesday evening – Isaak skipped it to see his dad come home. He sat in Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center that night – wearing his baseball uniform, No. 7 – with his mom, Veronica, and 13-year-old sister Desiree. The sergeant has missed a lot of games this year, too, because Desiree plays softball. But perhaps the biggest thing he missed was the birth of three grandbabies. One of them, 11-month-old Annalissa, joined her mom and dad, Elizabeth and Gilbert at the gym to greet her grandpa home. The two other grandbabies, Julian and Joel, were born in October 2006 and May 2007.

Another child was not able to attend Garcia's homecoming that night: 19-year-old Richard Rodriguez. He is in the Air Force and left a week ago for Guam.

This is Garcia's second deployment, the first was with the 1st Cavalry. Veronica said she's crossing her fingers that her husband doesn't get sent back to Iraq to join the rest of his unit. She knows he doesn't like to be apart from his comrades, but she doesn't want to let him go again.

Veronica, Desiree and Isaak said they would feel different things when they finally saw Garcia walk into the gym. Desiree said she'd probably cry. Veronica said she was "already ..." and started to fan her tears with her hands. Isaak said he was "pumped up."

Isaak and Isaac share a special bond, Veronica said. He planned where the family would take their soldier out to eat that night, but he was tight-lipped. Only Isaak and his dad knew. They had been plotting it over the phone, Veronica said.

As the lines of soldiers formed in front of them later, the family stood on their tiptoes and searched for a recognizable face underneath the camouflage hats.

As the soldiers left with their families, the two Garcia baseball fans led the others to dinner. Yet another game was missed that day, but somewhere in Killeen on Tuesday night, a family was sharing a meal together for the first time in a while and that game just didn't matter.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at or (254) 501-7547

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