PAJARO -- The mother of the first combatant from Monterey County to be killed in Iraq returned Tuesday night from a trip to donate supplies to Iraqi refugees in the bordering country of Jordan.
She said she journeyed in her son's honor and gained a deepened perspective on the war in which her son died Oct 13.
Amalia Avila Gonzalez, mother of Lance Cpl. Victor Gonzales, who was killed in Iraq in October, talks Wednesday about her trip to Jordan. (Photo/Richard Green)
On Dec. 26, Amalia Avila González, mother of late Marine Lance Cpl. Victor González of Pajaro, flew more than 19 hours from San Francisco to Amman, Jordan, to help deliver $600,000 worth of supplies to refugees from the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
Victor González, 19, was killed in combat in Al Anbar province, barely a month after he'd arrived in the war-torn country.
Amalia González said Wednesday that during eight days in Jordan she met Iraqi refugees, including mothers like her who have lost a son or a relative in the war. The delegates from Global Exchange and Code Pink, the two groups that organized the trip traveled with translators, but González said she understood what they felt because of their common bond as mothers.
'They cried ...'
"They cried like I have cried, because they lost a son and they don't know why," she said in Spanish.
"The people there are not mad at the troops, they're upset with how the U.S. government has handled the war. All they want is peace, liberty and their own land."
González said the group had hoped to enter Iraq to see what conditions American troops are living in but was discouraged by Jordanian military police.
"They told us we couldn't cross the border because it was too dangerous," she said. "They said we could get up to a certain point but after that they couldn't guarantee our safety."
Even if the group had been lucky enough to make it cross into Iraq, González said, they were told it would take days to get a visa to be able to re-enter Jordan.
González said she developed a deeper understanding of the war and people in the Middle East by walking around and talking to victims of the fighting.
"Every day, this war gets worse and worse," she said. "It's become more than a war; it's become a massacre.
'Time of survival'
"For the families over there it's become a time of survival. And it's the same for the American soldiers. My son would always ask for little things, food and supplies. It makes me sad that we're not doing much to protect our soldiers. They deserve everything they need. Here we are blessed, but over there they are in harm's way. The news doesn't show 5 percent of what's really going on there."
González, who has placed an altar in her living room with photos and cards of condolence for her son, said she hopes to continue her mission of peace. She said she wants U.S. troops home.
She plans to continue working with Global Exchange and write letters to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The group also has discussed holding candlelight vigils in Washington, D.C., to call attention to the need to bring troops home.
"People should contact their government officials and ask them to stop this massacre," González said. "Parents should refuse to send their kids because the soldiers have no idea of what they're getting into."
© 2005 The Salinas Californian