Prayer, pride help family get through sons’ service

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Four American flags wave proudly outside the Isaacs family home just west of Portales. One represents the family’s love of country. The others represent three sons: Corey, Toby and Eric Isaacs, who have all recently completed military obligations in Iraq.

All three are scheduled to be home for Christmas for the first time in four years. Corey, the oldest of Galen and Barbara Isaacs’ sons, hasn’t seen the family at all for 2 1/2 years.

“I told Corey when I see him, I’m going to give him a bunch of hugs and kisses,” Barbara said last week. “I can’t wait for the day when my three boys come home safely to us.”

State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, first learned that all three Isaacs boys were stationed in Iraq in 2003.

“He was surprised and had a puzzled look on his face when I told him,” Galen Isaacs said. “He told me that wasn’t supposed to be. He asked if I wanted one of them out of Iraq.”

Ingle offered to contact U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., about bringing one of the sons home and Barbara said they approached the boys with the idea.

“When we talked to Toby, he told us to choose Corey because he has a wife and kid,” Barbara said. “When we talked to Eric, he told us to choose Corey because he has a wife and kid. When we talked to Corey, he told us to choose Eric because he’s the youngest.”

But Galen said none of the boys wanted to leave Iraq because of the other troops in their infantry, which had become like family during their service.

And so Galen declined Ingle’s offer to bring one son home. “I said ‘We’re all right for now,’” Galen said.

All three sons have since left the war-torn country. Eric and Corey are in Germany. Toby is in Washington state.

But the family, which includes one daughter, Jennifer, a student at Eastern New Mexico University, endured 10 stressful months — from April 2003 until February 2004 — when all three sons were at war in Iraq.

Barbara said during the U.S. invasion, Corey and Eric were in Baghdad while Toby was north of Baghdad.

“Eric and Toby were 50 miles apart, but they never got to see each other,” Barbara said. “We (Galen and Barbara) were on pins and needles during the main invasion. We had the television on 24-7. The television wasn’t off for the first two months. We wanted every piece of information.”

Barbara said she was worried about Toby because she didn’t hear from him for the first three weeks of the invasion.

Partners with the Army

Corey Isaacs, 27, who graduated from Portales High School in 1995, has served in the military for nine years. Galen said Corey looked at the possibility of serving in the Navy or Air Force, but felt the Army was more interested in him.

“They were honest and straightforward with him,” Barbara said.

Toby, 22, was unlike the other two boys. Corey and Eric wanted to enter the Army when they were high school seniors and were in the delayed entry program. Toby, who graduated from PHS in 2001, worked six months as plumber before entering the armed forces in January of 2002.

“He liked working for Denton’s (plumbing in Clovis) but he didn’t feel he was on the right path,” Barbara said. “I asked him, ‘Have you thought about the military?’ He searched it out on his own and we were really surprised when he decided to go into the military.”

Eric, 20, had no doubt in his mind he wanted to join the military after he graduated from PHS in 2002. Barbara said Eric idolized Corey and wanted to join the military immediately.

During Eric’s graduation, military officials presented the Isaacs an award that read, “Presented to the Isaacs Family for your strong partnership with the U.S. Army. We appreciate what you and your three sons do to contribute to the defense of our nation: Eric, Toby and Corey.”

Friends bring comfort

Those contributions have increased dramatically in the past two years.

Friends have provided comfort for the family, Galen said, even paying for the flag poles and flags and helping to put them up outside the family’s home.

Galen, pastor at Kenna Community Church 30 miles southwest of Portales, said men from his church came to him when they found out all three of the Isaacs boys were in Iraq. He said the men and Galen read Psalms Chapter 140 one morning. Galen said the reading provided some relief to him and put him a little more at ease.

“We’ve always been a real faithful family,” Toby Isaacs said in a telephone interview last week.

That faith should produce fruit soon. Galen said they expect Corey around Dec. 17 for Christmas, followed by Toby around Dec. 19. Eric should also be in sometime before Christmas, though no date has been established.

“I look forward to seeing them for Christmas,” Toby said. “Last time I saw (his parents) was in April, when I came back from Iraq.”