NFA, Class of 2001.
MARINE GYSGT LUIS A. MERCADO JR.
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W e l c o m e
Posted May. 22, 2017
New Windsor mom, Luz Mercado, started the foundation, ÒSupport Our Heroes, when her son Marine GYSGT Luis Mercado Jr. was stationed in Iraq and started to share items from packages his mom sent him to fellow soldiers who told him of some of the simple pleasures they were missing from home.
Lucy Mercado, New Windsor, is preparing to ship items to military service members as part of her foundation, Support Our Heroes. She supports three platoons in Afghanistan.
December 24, 2004
'Not a whole family' at Christmas, Marine's dad says
By Alice Kenny
New Windsor - Inflatable snowmen bobbed in front of a flashing "Merry Christmas" sign at the raised ranch next door to Marine Sgt. Luis Mercado's parents' home. But at the Mercados', wilting yellow ribbons tied to the maple tree out front formed the only decorations. Inside, there was no tree, no crche, no hint of the holiday.
Mercado, 21, who was deployed to Iraq in May, was supposed to be home for the holidays. But with casualties in Iraq's deadly battles doubling during the past month, Mercado, like more than 20,000 other troops, was ordered to extend his tour, at least until March.
"It's hard watching everyone exchanging gifts and going home to their families," said the sergeant's father, Luis Mercado Sr., 43, clenching his hands on their glass kitchen table. "We're a family, but not a whole family."
Every second of every day, Luis said, he, his wife, Luz, and their younger son, Christopher, worry about Luis Jr., a Newburgh Free Academy graduate. Is he OK? they wonder. Is he alive?
Earlier this week, the father peered at a front-page photo of a soldier being dragged to safety by two fellow soldiers after an insurgent's bloody attack on a mess hall near Mosul.
"I called Chris down," the father recalled. "'Is this your brother?' I asked."
It turned out the soldier shown in the photo was someone else's son.
Luz, also 43, who corresponds with her son via e-mail, leaves her AOL on around the clock, the volume cranked up full blast. That way, she said, anywhere in the house she can hear the announcement, "You've got mail."
The last time he wrote was a classic, she said, laughing as she pointed to a photo of her dark, skinny son, his stomach plumped with a pillow and a huge smile spread above his faux-white beard. He wanted to play Santa for the troops, she said, as he had for his family at their reunion just one year ago. Like Luz, who has embarked on a one-woman campaign to send care packages to the troops, he wanted to do something to pick up their spirits. He asked her to send the Santa suit ... and 2,000 candy canes.
She doesn't know if he got them yet. She hasn't heard from him in a week.
"I wrote him and said, 'Just send me a note that says OK,'" Luz said, her voice shaking. "You don't have to go into particulars."
Ricardo Rios, Jr.