"Kids Of Courage" Part Two - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

"Kids Of Courage" Part Two

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(KCEN) -- When our troops are deployed, their children suffer through months and sometimes years of separation.

From Bargram, KCEN HD News Reporter Sophia Stamas introduces us to some of our nation's tiniest and bravest heroes

"Since 2009, I've been back to back to back," says Sergeant Randy Rodriguez as he's on his third deployment.

That means duty has called him to Afghanistan for three out of the past five years.

So back home at Fort Hood, his daughter, 6-year old Addison, falls into line, answering her own call to duty.

"She'll help out with Maddy in the mornings, just getting dressed, everyday things," says Randy's Wife, Mandy, while Addison helps her wash the dishes.

Military life hasn't been easy on their other daughter, 4-year old Madalynn either.

Randy has only been home for one year of her life

Mandy said, "They've been really strong, not letting it bother them as much."

Mandy presses on with a soldier-sized hole in her heart.

"The holidays were really hard, because we didn't have him, and we just stayed here this year," she said.

It's a sadness Addison senses and constantly tries to combat.

She draws her mom pictures every day to cheer her up, and her mission for mom is always clear.

"So you don't get sad anymore," Addison says softly to her mom, as she colors.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Rodriguez is more than 7,000 miles away, running security patrols on and around Bagram Air Force Base, and knowing that mom is taken care of helps him focus more on his job.

"It's a great feeling. That way, I know she's not thinking about me, I know her mind is occupied with something other than me," Randy says.

So while he watches over the streets of Bagram, he knows his mightiest allies are back home watching over mom.

Randy says, "They're stronger than me, I'll tell you that. They're pretty strong."

Addison folds up a picture she drew of their family of four back together again, and sends it to Randy, so he'll see through her eyes what she wants more than anything in the world.

Randy smiles and laughs as he unfolds the paper and sees what she drew.

When her wish comes to fruition, it will be a homecoming these enduring "Kids of Courage" will never forget.

"It's just going to piece us back together," said Mandy.

Randy's unit will come home over the next few months.

Reporter: Sophia Stamas sstamas@kcentv.com

Photographers: Jordan Bontke and Rocky Bridges

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