Leaving behind a loving family, good friends and a nice job are
always hard things to do, but not knowing when one might be able to
return to them can be even harder.
Heather Herrera, a major in the Colorado Army National Guard and
an instructor for military science who has been serving in Iraq
since January 2003, had no idea when she would be allowed to return
to her family and her job, until now.
Herrera was recently notified by her superiors that she will be
returning home from her command at Camp Victory in June 2004.
Abe Herrera, Heather Herrera’s husband, said the news about his
wife’s return was exciting for him and the rest of her family but
that June is still far away.
“When I got the word, it was enlightening, but it’s still months
away,” he said. “It’s hard to be waiting.”
He said he missed his wife very much and that he has still not
gotten used to her absence at home.
“It’s tough,” he said “Everyday is tough. It really rings it
Abe is not the only one missing Heather at home. Andrea Herrera,
a sophomore restaurant and resort management major and Heather’s
stepdaughter, said that after Heather left, she noticed there was a
void in some of the activities in her life.
“It was really hard when she left. It was hard because we used
to shop a lot, and get coffee, and then come home and bother my
dad,” she said. “It’s not the same to shop with dad.”
Andrea said she was looking forward to Heather’s return home but
that it might be strange getting to know her again because it has
been so long. She also said that despite not knowing if her and her
stepmother’s relationship will be the same, there are still many
things that she wants to tell her when she comes home.
“I look forward to telling her everything that’s happened,
getting back to know her again, hanging out and doing girl stuff,”
she said. “It’ll be strange because we haven’t been together in so
Recent attacks on military forces in the Middle East have caused
some worry for Heather’s family about her health and the
possibility of her upcoming return.
Mike McCormick, Heather’s father and the new construction
coordinator for Housing and Dining Services, said he was nervous
when his daughter left for Iraq and still gets nervous every time
he knows she is traveling. He also said his heart skips a beat
every time he hears something about an attack on the news, but he
hopes her whole company comes home safely in June.
“Anytime your child leaves and is in harm’s way, you are
nervous. The (times) we know she is traveling is still a long day
for us,” he said. “It is a constant worry.”
McCormick also said one of the things he has noticed the most is
that his daughter has missed many family events. Since leaving in
January, Heather has missed a whole year of holidays, many
birthdays, including her own, and a heart attack that her father
“One of the most difficult things is not having a family member
home for events. It really magnifies the situation,” McCormick
said. “We’ll probably have Christmas in June.”
Karen McCormick, Heather’s mother and the special projects
coordinator for the Lory Student Center, said that even while her
daughter was overseas she wanted to show her CSU spirit.
“One thing she asked for was a CSU flag. It hangs in her room,”
she said. “CSU has been her home, and an important part of her
Heather’s family members aren’t the only people feeling the
effects of her absence. Todd Habitzreuther, a junior microbiology
major and a former student of Heather’s, said he was excited to
hear about her return and looks forward to seeing her at the school
“It’s kind of exciting. It’ll be good to have her back,” he
said. “It was like losing a family member.”
Habitzreuther also said that since Heather has been gone he has
had no one to talk to.
“I didn’t have anybody I could go to. Now I just don’t feel as
comfortable,” he said.
Jamie Anderson, a junior equine science major and also a former
student of Heather’s, said she couldn’t wait for her mentor to
return so she can go see her in her office.
“It’ll be exciting to see her back in her office, sitting there
with a grin and her hair up,” she said.
Heather was unavailable for contact but her husband said that
she wanted to let the students know she still worries about
“Tell the students to study hard and pay attention,” she said in
an e-mail to her husband. “Tell them to be creative and think out
of the box, but know the rules and regulations.”