Lisa Torello (LT) and Tony Cistaro (TC):
LT: My dad was due to retire, he was 2 months short of twenty years. So, he knew it was his last tour and he was gonna go home for good.
TC: Your dad was very duty-bound. If he was passed over to go out in the field, he’d get animated about it. And, uh, I was with your dad the day he was killed. We were going to travel through the province and make three stops. It was a winding road and as we were coming down the hill, which was the most dangerous spot, I turned and faced your father. We smiled and gave each other thumbs up, we made it. And the next thing I knew, I was thrown out of my seat and I was seeing sky. I realized then, my God, we’ve been blown up. Your father was laying off to the side of the road and, uh, he never regained consciousness. I know I was the last person your dad saw and I still see that smile on your father’s face, one hand on the steering wheel, and that’s how I remember your dad.
LT: When we met yesterday, you said, ”You have your dad’s smile.”
LT: That just – I lost it. My dad and I had this connection that was deeper than I even understood. And um, within two months after graduating from high school, I left for basic training. And then, once I joined the Army, all I really wanted to do was to be his rank. So, when I made my father’s rank as soon as the ceremony was over, I went to the bathroom and cried. And I was like, I did it. That was the most monumental thing that ever happened to me. I mean, I wanted to be exactly like him, and 31 years in the Army, I guess I am just like him.
TC: Yeah. You’re a brave young lady, too. Every year, I visit your dad at The Wall and someone asked, ”Don’t you want to forget?” And no! I’m happy I met you and I’m happy that I can help you understand more.
LT: I’m humble and I’m grateful to know you and we’ll always keep in touch.
TC: Yes, and I wanna say, your dad, his grin would be from ear to ear, you know that, to see you as you are now.
LT: Thank you. I don’t feel like he’s ever left me, ever.