The latest mission for a local father and daughter has turned out to be something of a family affair.
Staff Sgt. Roberto Alicea and his daughter, Pvt. Felicia Alicea, were both recently activated as part of Task Force Freedom, a 700-person element of soldiers and airmen from Massachusetts and Vermont supporting the U.S. Secret Service in Washington, D.C.
Father and daughter normally serve in National Guard units with different missions, and this is the first time they have been deployed together. While deployed, they are serving in separate units and on alternating shifts, so it’s possible they will not get the chance to actually work together.
“The biggest reward about serving with Felicia is knowing that she’s out there doing what she loves — that is helping people, following her family’s footsteps, and trying to make this world a better place to live in,” said Roberto, who serves with the 1166th Transportation Company. “I would love to have the opportunity to work side by side with Felicia.”
Felicia, who is part of the 747th Military Police Company, said she was excited to be working near the White House in the nation’s capital.
“I hope to snag a picture in front of it with my dad, if I can,” she said. “That would be pretty legendary.”
Roberto, who works as a firefighter in Fitchburg during the week, said he had heard from several friends and co-workers who were excited to hear he had been deployed on the same mission with his daughter.
“My wife and family have received much support from my close friends,” Roberto said. “Many friends contacted my wife to make sure she’s OK. I have a friend on standby to come and plow my driveway. That’s what friends do.”
Felicia said she is grateful for the support she’s received from friends and family.
“It fulfills me to see how proud they are to see me do what I love,” she said. “I think about that when we are called to duty. I am glad to know I am helping keep them safe.”
Roberto has served 14 of his 16 years of service with the National Guard, and had recently re-enlisted for six more years prior to deploying on this mission. His daughter, on the other hand, had only served for a little more than a year before being called up last month.
Despite coming from a military family, Roberto said he and his wife, Kim, herself a former soldier with the U.S .Army Reserve and the National Guard, had been taken by surprise by their daughter’s decision to join the military.
“But it made us very proud that we at least had a child who wanted to follow in our footsteps,” he said.
Felicia said her parents had played a major role in her decision to enlist to serve her country. She said she had always admired her father’s heroism and pride in serving the community, and that her mother remained a key motivator and supporter in both their lives.
“I feel very lucky to have the support system from both her and my dad every day,” Felicia said. “Being able to serve with my father has been nothing short of awesome. When I put on the uniform, it makes me so proud to know I have such a great role model. My mother back home has been nothing but amazing in supporting and helping us be ready and as prepared as possible for this mission here in D.C.” She said her mother had provided both her and her father with extra snacks, hand sanitizer and coffee for their mission.
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