WSMR Aide-de-Camp Capt. Angela Somnuk, her brother Victor and sister Christina, survived the emotional and physical stress of consecutive deployments thanks to the love and selflessness their mother, Daisy, showed them throughout the way.
Single and in the military, Somnuk, her brother and sister faced many challenges in preparation for a deployment, during deployment, and after returning from a deployment. Daisy helped ease the stress of deployment for her children by doing everything short of deploying for them in preparation. She would also help them settle in after returning from deployment. When her children weren’t busy with a deployment, which was rare, she would help them move when they would get new assignments.
“She’s basically dedicated herself to us. I think she’s one of the most selfless mothers out there,” Somnuk said. “A lot of people say I’m spoiled, but she insists on doing what she can to help us.”
Daisy exceeded her motherly role throughout her children’s most strenuous times in the military. Before a deployment, Daisy would fly to wherever her child was stationed to ensure that their belongings were properly stored before deploying. When her son or daughter would return from a deployment she would fly back a week early to take their belongings out of storage and set them up before they arrived. Daisy would do this all on her own, including the placement of large furniture items like sofas and tables.
Daisy took on the consecutive role in 2006 when Somnuk deployed for 15 months and again when she deployed in 2011 for 10 months. Her brother Victor also deployed in 2006 for 15 months and again in 2009 for 12 months. Her sister Christina deployed in 2010 for 12 months and is currently deployed again. Somnuk said their family considered 2012 to be the magic year because all three siblings were home safe.
“In the past eight years she’s had to endure the worry of having three kids deployed, one after another,” Somnuk said. “For five years straight one of us was deployed every single year.”
Prior to caring for her children in such capacity, Daisy supported her husband, Wiriya, during his 24 years of services since 1982. Daisy assumed the difficult role of an Army wife for her husband and their three children. Prior to 1982 Daisy herself served in the Army and left as a specialist. Now that her children are serving she has dedicated her life to ensure an ease of stress in what would otherwise be one of the most trying circumstances an individual could face.
“She’s showed me how to be a good parent and how I would want to raise my kids,” Somnuk said.
While deployed, Somnuk and her brother and sister gained a second maternal figure. Jeanne Graeser, 70, also known affectionately to the Somnuks’ as “Granny”, adopted all three siblings throughout nearly each of their deployments through the program, Soldiers’ Angels. Graeser would send care packages often and write to them weekly. Graeser also adopted two of Somnuk’s close friends, and Somnuk’s boyfriend when they deployed. Through the Soldiers’ Angels program, Graeser and other members also helped support he battalion by sending boxes of coffee to them.
“That’s like the number one morale booster – to get anything in the mail,” Somnuk said. “(For me), knowing that there was someone out there who cared so much about Soldiers that she’d take time out of her schedule to send us notes, emails, and packages, was inspiring. It inspired me to want to do as much as I could for those around me.”
Somnuk and her family made plans to meet with Graeser in the 2012 Christmas break when they were all home, but plans fell through. The siblings still keep in contact with Graeser through Facebook and she still writes to them often. Somnuk and her sister are planning to meet Graeser during a road trip they are planning in the upcoming months.
“Granny holds a special place in my heart and I feel like she deserves the best the world has to offer because she is one of the most giving persons I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing–even if it’s from a distance,” Somnuk said.