WASHINGTON – It's one thing to follow in the footsteps of a military family. It's another to have the opportunity to serve on the same mission as your daughter.
Staff Sergeant Roberto Alicea, of the 1166th Transportation Company, and his daughter, Pvt. Felicia Alicea, of the 747th Military Police Company, is activated as part of Task Force Freedom. The task force is a 700-person element of Soldiers and Airmen from Massachusetts and Vermont, which is currently supporting the U.S. Secret Service.
The pair typically serve in units with different missions, and this is the first time either has worked 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," Roberto Alicea said. "While in D.C., I would love to have the opportunity to work side-by-side with Felicia."
While deployed, they are serving in separate units and on alternating shifts, so it's possible they will not get the chance to work together. Nonetheless, they're excited to have the opportunity to see each other. "One of the neatest experiences of this trip so far has been walking past the White House and being so close," Felicia Alicea said. "I hope to snag a picture in front of it with my dad if I can. That would be pretty legendary." She said this experience is something she will never forget or take for granted.
Roberto Alicea, who works as a firefighter during the week, has served 14 of his 16 years of service with the National Guard, and he recently re-enlisted for six years before starting this mission.
On the other hand, Felicia Alicea had served for a little more than a year before her unit was called on Jan. 26.
"Her decision to join the military caught my wife and me by surprise, but it made us very proud that we at least had a child who wanted to follow our footsteps," Roberto Alicea said.
With current and former military members in her family, Felicia Alicea said her father was one of the significant influences in joining the military. "I feel so proud to follow in his, and many others', footsteps," she said, adding that she's always looked up to her father for his heroism, duty and pride in serving the community.
Felicia Alicea says that her father is not the only one to influence her. She said that her mother, Kim, a former U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard Soldier, remains "one of the biggest motivators and supporters in our lives."
"My mother 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, adding that she even provided them with extra snacks, hand sanitizer and coffee for the mission.
"I feel fortunate to have the support from both of them every day," she said.
Felicia Alicea said that being part of this mission allows her father and other Soldiers and Airmen to see into the military police world. "Sometimes, I suspect he even maybe a little jealous he didn't try it out," Felicia Alicea said. "We do some cool stuff."
Overall, Felicia had said that taking part in the mission has been a positive experience.
"Being able to serve with my father has been nothing but awesome," Felicia Alicea said. "When I put on the uniform, it makes me so proud to know I have such a great role model."