New Arrival at the Westerlund Home

January 30, 2009 12:16:24 AM PST
Most parents have stories to tell about the day they learned they would become a mother or a father... But one Fresno couple is going to have quite a tale to tell.And it's possible their story is one you won't likely forget either. Fresno City Councilman and Navy reservist Larry Westerlund wed Fresno Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Dora Rivera last December. At the time neither knew he'd be on active duty when the news of a lifetime arrived.

As Dora put it: "God has got a great sense of humor. (laughter) we planned and he decides"

When they married councilmember Westerlund had not yet been called back to active duty; that would happen 2 months later and coincide with his campaign for re-election.

At age 42 and 37 Larry and Dora wanted a family but decided to wait until his 14 months call up was over. But it was up to Dora to let her husband know that timetables can and do often change: (I) found out on June the second, election night. (laughter) When did he find out? That day earlier." By then Dora had run a winning campaign and Lt. Commander Westerlund was on active duty in South Carolina.

The news of his re-election and her pregnancy arrived together just as he was leaving for Germany. He had expected to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. That had changed and so had his life. His first child is due in mid-february of next year.

I congratulated the soon to be father-to-be by telephone. From Germany he said: "thanks, she's having a baby ... I'm hoping I can come home and if the baby cooperates be there for the birth."

Westerlund isn't free to say much about his role in a joint special operations task force in Stuttgart, Germany. He can say it involves countries in Trans-Africa and the operations include training, support, security and good will.

His tour of duty will keep him there until mid-April of next year. For now these parents-to-be connect by email and telephone: We communicate pretty regularly, our phone bill's pretty high!" And that phone bill is likely to keep growing right along with the precious cargo at home. Dora say she's taking things a day at a time: "Hopefully we'll be able to be together at that time ... God won't give you more than you can handle and one day at a time and god will give you the grace to continue."

The Westerlund family is just one of thousands of military families who are facing a myriad of challenges every day during the deployment of a loved one. We wish them all safety and health.

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