The family of Rafael Navea is still mourning the loss of their hero.
When it comes to the Iraq war, it's sadly not a unique story. A roadside bomb in Fallujah killed Army Specialist Rafael Navea seven years ago this week. It might as well be yesterday for his mom and stepfather, Terry and Lucia Kirkpatrick of Weston.
"The time passes, but the pain is always the same," Lucia Kirkpatrick said. "We miss him, he was my only son, and I miss him every day, so does his family, his kids were very little when he was killed, they're growing up without a father."
Rafa, as his mom calls him, was 34. He left behind a wife and three sons who are growing up without dad. Lucia keeps a picture of the last time Navea saw his boys. You see two bubbly little kids with their smiling father. He's wearing his Army uniform, about to ship out to Iraq.
"I hope the American people realize all the sacrifices that the families and the guys make," Lucia said. "My son didn't want to get killed and leave his kids alone to grow up alone, he was a wonderful father."
The end of combat operations in Iraq is a bittersweet moment for this soldier's mom. She can't celebrate, but she's glad most of the troops are coming home.
"And the thing is, I am hoping that the lives we lost, my son and all the other, 4,000 and something, are not wasted," Lucia said.
"Let's hope it's not all about oil, that something good comes out of it," Terry Kirkpatrick said. When asked what something good would entail, Lucia chimed in. "That Iraq gets better and recovers and that they have peace."
Lucia and Terry were planning on watching President Obama's speech Tuesday night, where he officially announced an end to combat operations in Iraq.
"I am 100 percent happy that Mr. Obama complied with his word and he's taking the troops out and I hope he doesn't take too long to take the Afghanistan ones out, either," said Lucia.
Like lots of moms, she wears a memorial bracelet with her son's name on it. Like lots of families, the Kirkpatricks have a shrine to their soldier, which includes a signed letter from President Bush and the flag sent by the Army, inside their book case. The war in Iraq has left an indelible stain on so many families.
Lucia keeps a picture in her cell phone that her 11-year-old grandson drew for Father's Day. It shows his dad as an angel in Army fatigues, holding a little boy's hand.