Ernesto Rodriguez enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000. When he deployed to Iraq five years later, his first child, Sebastian, had just been born. 

While Ernesto loved his time in the military, being away from home proved challenging — not just for him, but for his entire family. He left the military in 2009 as a result.

A few years later, Ernesto came to StoryCorps with his son Sebastian, who was 11 at the time, to talk about his service, his transition back to civilian life, and the importance of being a father.

For Ernesto and Sebastian, their StoryCorps conversation marked the beginning of an ongoing and open dialogue between father and son. So three years later, during Sebastian’s freshman year of high school, the pair came back to StoryCorps to record a second interview.

Next, we’ll hear from Army Staff Sgt. Papsy Lemus, who first came to StoryCorps in 2009 to talk about her 13-month deployment to Iraq. She sat down to have a conversation with her eldest child, Grizz, who was nine years old at the time.

Ten years later, Grizz, now 20, had more questions for Papsy (who is still in the military). So they came back to StoryCorps to continue the conversation.

Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Middle photo 1: Ernesto and Sebastian Rodriguez at their StoryCorps interview in New York, NY on April 1, 2016. By Morgan Feigal-Stickles for StoryCorps.
Middle photo 2: Sebastian and Ernesto Rodriguez at their StoryCorps interview in Bridgeport, CT on October 5, 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall for StoryCorps.
Middle photo 2: Grizz and Papsy Lemus at their StoryCorps interview in Salt Lake City, UT on April 30, 2009. By Jeremy Helton for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: Papsy & Grizz Lemus at their StoryCorps interview in Salt Lake City, UT on October 29, 2019. By KUER for StoryCorps.
Released on January 14, 2020.
Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Heat and Memory” by Jarrett Floyd
“Surly Bonds” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut
“Sage the Hunter” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Landsman Duets
“NirvanaVEVO” by Chris Zabriskie from the album Undercover Vampire Policeman
“Elegiac” by Bryan Copeland (StoryCorps Commission)