Mother-son sergeants heading to Iraq together

May 12, 2008 4:31:09 AM PDT
A 46-year-old combat medic and a 29-year-old man will be serving together in the same National Guard unit in Iraq. Nothing unusual - except they're mother and son.

Sgt. Carmen Villegas, a 46-year-old combat medic, was transferred two weeks ago to the same Teaneck-based unit as her son, Sgt. Felipe Diaz.

Diaz, a Paterson police officer, said he was given the task of introducing the newest sergeant at the 250th Brigade Support Battalion's Foxtrot Company.

The two will be among more than 2,800 soldiers of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team who are heading to Iraq in September.

Villegas worked for eight years as an oncology nurse at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Paterson. She said she had planned to retire from the Guard in June but changed her mind when she heard about the Iraq deployment.

"It's like a family to me," Villegas said of the Guard, which she joined in 1979, when Diaz was an infant.

Villegas said it was difficult to think about her son going with her: "God forbid something happens to him. I keep running that through my mind."

Besides her son, she'll have to worry about a husband. Villegas plans to get married on Wednesday to Victor Hernandez, a sergeant in a National Guard helicopter unit based near Trenton. He is scheduled to go to Iraq in January.