All four children of Dan and Rhonda Holub, of rural Marion, are serving overseas in the military.
Chris served two tours in Iraq with the Marines as a mechanic for Harrier jets. Now he works in Japan as a weapons adviser for both Harrier and F-18 jets for the Marines
Heather was a veterinary techinician for the Army in Iraq but earned her commission. She still works in Iraq as a platoon leader with a mobile medical unit.
Tamra is stationed out of Kuwait and is a platoon leader for a transportation unit doing missions into Iraq. She was formerly a gunner.
Molly is part of the military police and does a variety of different jobs. She has escorted convoys, but she is also a handler for a search dog that search for bombs and weapons. She is stationed near the Syrian border, searching people as they cross into Iraq.
All four children enlisted over a sense of obligation and duty for their country. Heather and Tamra also wanted to get some help on their education.
Having four children in the military is tough on a father, even one who served himself. Dan fears early-morning phone calls because he believes that the military delivers its bad news at odd hours. He’s even more wary since Molly was wounded in Iraq.
“If the phone rings at 6 o’clock in the morning,” Dan said. “I have moments of panic.”
Two years ago, Molly was part of an escort mission in Iraq when an improvised explosive device was set off and hit her patrol’s Humvee. A piece of shrapnel rocketed through a lens of her sunglasses, blinding her in one eye.
She then spent time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.
Molly never thought twice about going back to Iraq with the military police. She rejoined her comrades in March.
“She had to prove something to herself,” Dan said. “Chris joked that she was going back to find the guy who did it.”
While Dan still fears for his children, he understands the communal nature of the military.
Dan served 20 years in the U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1988. He was the oldest of six sons who entered the military. As a matter of course, he receives no sympathy from his mother.
“All the stuff that you put me through,” she said. “Don’t come crying to me.”
Dan worked on aircraft carriers during Vietnam, loading weapons into jets, and continued to work on airborne weapons systems throughout various conflicts during his tenure. He has spent time in the Middle East — Karachi, Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf — and Asia — Thailand, the Philippines, China, Guam, and Eastern Russian coast.
The other part of the military commitment for the Holubs is the belief that they are doing something truly honorable.
Dan said that he was always welcomed when he came into any port. He also remembers parents in Vietnam loading their children onto American helicopters during the evacuation of Saigon so those children wouldn’t have to grow up under communism.
“(It was) The saddest thing I ever saw,” Dan said.
According to Dan, the Iraqi people, for the most part, have treated Chris, Heather, Tamra, and Molly as heroes. Children love them and gather as the soldiers would toss them candy.
There was one instance where Molly and a group soldiers were invited to an Iraqi barbecue. The women who were preparing the meal were excited to have another female in their midst and persuaded Molly to join them in the kitchen.
The Holub children have also told Dan that they have seen the graves that Saddam Hussein filled in his mass executions of innocent Kurds. It reminded them of why they were there.
None of that changes the fact that Dan still worries about all of his children overseas. He said that he tries to communicate with each of them two to three times a week through e-mail and sometimes on the phone.
“It used to be ‘snail mail’; everything was OK two weeks ago,” Dan said. “Now you know that they are safe that day, and that’s really nice.”