Stationed more than 7,000 miles and 12 time zones away, Moses Sanchez of Ahwatukee Foothills knows how important it is to stay in close contact with his family.
From where he is stationed in Bagram, Afghanistan, Sanchez, a member of the U.S. Navy, talks daily with his wife, Dr. Maria Manriquez-Sanchez, and his two children, Liam, 14, and Shannon, 16, either through Skype, email or hand-written letters.
He was deployed to Afghanistan in April, months after turning 34 years old. He was president of the Kiwanis Club of Ahwatukee, an instructor at South Mountain Community College and a heavily involved resident in the community.
Now, he is a military man fighting a war in Afghanistan.
"The rough moments... (are) reminders that we're at war and (I'm) not home in Ahwatukee with my wife and my kids (and that) can sometimes be rough, but we do what we have to do," Sanchez said in an email. "My biggest concern has always been my family at home. Communicating with my family helps them know that I'm safe. Peace of mind for my wife and kids gives me peace of mind to do my job here."
Sanchez was in the reserves before being called to action earlier this year. His last year of active duty was in 1998.
This is the first time he has been away since he and Manriquez-Sanchez married in 2006.
She called the time apart "rough" but said they are in a good position because many other soldiers are not able to communicate daily with their families.
"We get to Skype daily and others don't and we are grateful for that," she said. "During the week, work keeps me occupied but it is the weekends that are the hardest."
Sanchez occasionally posts updates and even movies of his progress through his online blog, Take a Stand AZ. The website is maintained by his daughter, Shannon.
"I did it because it's my way to be in contact with him," she said. "I love being able to share what he's doing. And it makes him happy and I love to see him happy."
To pass his free time, Sanchez said he is learning Pashtu and Farsi. He is also becoming more in touch with his spiritual side.
"If I had to find a positive in my mobilization it would have to be an improvement of my mind, body and spirit," he said. "I've never read the Bible cover to cover and so decided to do so. I've learned quite a few prayers in Latin too, which I use often. I've asked for forgiveness for my sins and prayed more than I've ever prayed in my life."
He said it has helped him through the "rough moments," and that some are worse than others.
"When we were being transported through Kuwait I remember seeing the coffins and I just prayed for the families of the fallen," he said. "I go to Mass every weekend here and at the last Mass they talked about the 20-plus soldiers we've lost in the past month and I just pray."
On her end, Manriquez-Sanchez said she and her family do whatever they can for him. Whether that is sending him letters and packages, including gifts for Father's Day, or just listening.
"We're all pitching in, we're all supporting him for supporting our country," she said. "There is evil out there and we are doing good things. His journey out there has deepened his spirituality and we try to look at it positively."
Shannon said she keeps up on what is happening overseas, but doesn't like to know too much.
"Sometimes I will hear news reports about soldiers dying and I just tell myself, ‘It's not him, it's not him,'" she said. "Sometimes, it will just hit me (that he's gone). I will have a bad dream and wake up and I realize he's not out there in the living room on the couch. And that's hard."
Sanchez started his 400-day deployment in February. You can bet he and his family are counting down those days until he makes his return to the states.
To follow Sanchez's blog, visit www.takeastandaz.com.
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