Full Transcript is Below:
– I’m NFM TV’s Greg Sher. Thursday, August 26th, 2021, Kabul airport, Afghanistan, an ISIS-K suicide bomber killed 13 US military service men and women, and 169 Afghans. 20-year-old Marine, Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza from Laredo, Texas was among the US soldiers killed. His mother Elizabeth and stepfather Victor who helped raise their hero son since he was three years old are with me as we honor David with our October 2021 NFM Salute. Elizabeth and Victor, all of us in the NFM Family of Lenders are profoundly sorry for your unimaginable loss. What do you want us to know about your wonderful son?
– He was very quiet, but once he got to know you, he was outgoing. Beautiful guy. He was just wanting to do the best he could to help out.
– So we knew that his passion towards, you know, military was in his future. And you know, even in the later years when he was like 14 or 15, he would talk more about it when he got to high school. And eventually by his junior year, he kinda knew what he was gonna do.
– So he graduated from high school in 2019. When was he first deployed?
– He was deployed in April.
– April, 2021.
– April, 2021. So just a handful of months ago. And where was he sent first?
– He was actually sent to Jordan first and then he was moved one week before the accident. He was moved on to Afghanistan. He was there for a week.
– Elizabeth, what was your level of worry when he was in Jordan and when he moved to Afghanistan to the Abbey Gate of the airport, was it elevated?
– When he was in Jordan, when he was deployed, of course, I was worried like any deployment, you know, as a mother, you worry. But he would talk to us and FaceTime over there and he would say it was very calm over there. So it kind of like, I kind of like learned how to live with it because it was calm over there. But once he moved to Afghanistan for that week, it was just like, we were just counting the days because it was like, for August 30, 31, they were all coming back. So we were just counting the days.
– What was your last conversation with him like? What was said?
– “I love you, mom.” I told him I loved him and to take care and we were gonna, we were waiting for him to come back.
– The day the tragic events unfolded, Victor, on August 26th, you never find out right away that it’s one of your own. So can you take us through that day and what that process was like from the time you heard there was an incident until the time someone knocked on your door?
– Yes. As a matter of fact, that day my wife was working and she called me to the house because she had actually found out that something had happened and I was here home and I turned on the TV at the time and I noticed, I started watching the news and they mentioned about what had just happened. And there was, I remember this general, I don’t remember his name, but I remember him saying that by midnight of that day, all the parents or husbands or wives or who, you know, related to the people would by then know who the victims were, the ones that passed away. And I remember that day when I was watching him and everything. I remember when my wife came from work that evening, I remember I stayed up till midnight and I remember walking from the sofa going to my bed and going, “We made it.” Because it’s already midnight and they didn’t call us. So we’re good. And I remember going to bed, my wife, of course, was already in bed sleeping and then we get the phone call. And as soon as it rang, you know, nobody’s gonna call you at 1:30 in the morning. So as soon as it rang, we knew something was up. My wife was already outside and she was crying and, you know, she was hysterical, you know, she was losing it.
– You can never quite prepare for that knock on that door, can you?
– No, sir. No, sir.
– That was a call and the knock we didn’t want to receive, I guess no parent wants to receive it.
– And that was on a Thursday and just three days later, the dignified transfer of those 13 service men and women took place. What will you always remember about that day?
– Sad seeing the 13 fallen heroes come back, but in a way it gave me some comfort knowing that he was coming home.
– So at the time that we’re talking right now, it has not even been 30 days since that horrific day. Elizabeth, how are you getting by? And what are the days like for you right now?
– There’s days, there’s good days and there’s bad days. I try to stay strong for my other children. I don’t like them to see me down or, you know. Like, for them I’m staying strong. And I know my hero, my David, wouldn’t want me to be sad, but there’s days I can’t prevent it. I just think about it and there’s great days and good days. Just day by day.
– Victor, I know he was also proud of the relationship he had with you. In fact, there was one moment around his graduation from boot camp that you guys shared that I know touched you immensely. Can you share that with our audience?
– When they finished the graduation, we were way up in the bleachers, way on top. The next thing I know I see him, I see him running up the bleachers after he had hugged You know, my wife, my kids, and his brothers and sisters, he actually came all the way up to where I was to give me a hug and it meant a lot because to me it was like, you know, here I am, I’m the dad. I’m supposed to go and congratulate him and everything. And he had it in him to come to me. And that to me showed, you know, to me it felt like the love that he showed, that he cared for me, that he came up to me. I didn’t go to him. He came up to me once he, he didn’t ignore, like I said, he didn’t ignore my wife or my brother, sister. They jumped in, whatever they did. But then he was almost like, like in a jog and came up the stairs all the way where I was standing and gave me a big ole hug. And the thing me and my wife always say, as soon as he got up there, you know, it’s one of those moments where he said, “Dad, are you proud of me?” I couldn’t be prouder, couldn’t be prouder. I mentioned this to my wife, you know, we as a family and I have told her, I said, “I’m glad I met you because if not, he would have never been in my life.” I’m glad to call him my son.
– Elizabeth, any final thoughts?
– He made me so proud, always did. He’s my American hero. He’s… What can I say? As a mother, always proud of him. I just, I was… He loved doing, he was doing what he loved so I can’t be prouder than that.
– He is and was a hero and he will never be forgotten. We send our love, everyone in the NFM Family of Lenders, and I’m sure I can say with certainty everyone in the United States for the sacrifice that he made.
– Thank you and God bless you.
– Thank you, sir.
– I’m Greg Sher. This was our October 2021 NFM Salute.