Very special Christmas for Mata family
Special to the Courier
Pictured: Bandera's US Army PFC Sunnie Mata on duty in Afghanistan.
Months ago, the Bandera Courier reported about one local family whose third child had joined into the United States military. Soon, Four months ago, Maximillian Mata enlisted with the US Marine Corps four months ago. He will soon be reunited with his former Marine brother, Antonio; sister Sunnie; and, of course, the siblings' parents for the holidays.
The Mata family will be enjoying one of the most joyful Christmas and New Year seasons in their lives.
John and Sylvia Mata are now relieved that their only daughter, US Army PFC Sunnie, has returned safely after honorably serving in Afghanistan with the 54th Quartermaster Company.
The 54th is one of only two active duty mortuary affairs units in the US Army. The company returned to Fort Lee, Virginia, after a tour of just over six months in Kandahar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
During her first overseas deployment, Sunnie Mata and her "battle buddies" had the arduous but delicate responsibilities of performing mortuary missions in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
"Our duties primarily revolved around preparing our fallen heroes for transportation to their families and loved ones back home." Mata explained. "I love my job, but I must say it can at times be mind draining. It is not a job for everyone."
After enduring their eldest son's long nine-month tour in Iraq with the Marines, John and Sylvia Mata are grateful their patriotic sons and daughter will be home for the holidays.
"My husband and I are so blessed and thankful for all the good Lord has granted us. It is difficult to put my feelings into words without tearing and choking up some." Sylvia said.
"I am exceedingly proud of my daughter and sons. Like many, many citizens in Bandera County and across this country, Sylvia and I revere those who unselfishly give and sacrifice for our freedoms and liberty. We sometimes forget about them - especially during these special times," John added.
Referring to this Christmas season, Sunnie said, "It's is going to be one of the best ever. I am reunited with my 2-year-old son, Landen. I am with loved ones. I am back in the good ol' United States and I am home in Bandera. It's great to be back!"
During his mother's tour of duty, little Landen was attending the Grace Lutheran Church Noah's Ark Daycare Center.
After the holidays, Sunnie will return with Landen to Fort Lee, where she is stationed. Maximillian has been assigned to the US Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty-nine Palms, California. Antonio now lives with his wife, Karla, and the couple's two sons, Aiden and Atticus, in San Antonio.
And John and Sylvia and their youngest child, Abram, will be right here in Bandera where they have lived in for several years.