It’s never easy saying goodbye to a loved one when they deploy overseas, but it’s even harder when your dad deploys earlier than expected and misses your birthday.
Liam Lambardia of Pleasanton celebrated his 8th birthday on July 2 surrounded by his two younger brothers, mom and maternal grandma. His father, Charles, was deployed to Southwest Asia on Sunday, June 28, weeks earlier than expected.
“Liam is taking it the hardest. He’s really close with his father,” said Veronica Lambardia, Liam’s mom. “The boys understand why their dad had to leave. We just didn’t expect him to leave before Liam’s birthday and that makes it harder on him.”
Lambardia is a firefighter in San Antonio and the 433rd Civil Engineer Squadron. Along with 11 other Reserve Citizen Airmen firefighters, he was deployed to Southwest Asia to perform fire protection duties for personnel, aircraft, cargo and other installation assets, just days before Liam’s birthday.
Family friend, Jessica Tom, decided to plan a birthday parade to help Liam feel loved despite the fact that his dad could not be here.
“My son, Robert, is best friends with Liam so I asked his mom if I could plan a parade for him,” said Tom. “I wanted to make this even more special for Liam and since his father is local and a firefighter, I asked if our local police and fire departments could participate.”
The City of Pleasanton responded they were not allowing any of their police officers or firefighters to participate in any parades, however, Leming VFD Fire Chief Loren Gillespie agreed and made a few calls himself. Before Tom knew it, she had confirmation that Leming VFD, Poteet VFD, the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office, Campbellton/Paisano VFD and the Poteet VFW Honor Guard were going to participate in the parade to honor Liam and his father.
On July 2 at 5:15 p.m., the vehicle parade led by the Poteet VFW Honor Guard and Tom made its way in front of Liam’s house where he sat outside greeting everyone and handing out goodie bags.
“It was amazing. It was like a dream come true for me,” said Liam in response to the parade. “I miss him a lot and wish he could be here, but this made me feel like he was really here with me.”