Time now to check in with StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative. We're hearing highlights from this project each month.


SIMON: Today, the story of a mother and daughter who served together in Iraq. Sergeant Marilyn Gonzalez and her daughter, Specialist Jessica Pedraza, were both in the Massachusetts Army National Guard and both in the same company, but they had different jobs. In 2010, Marilyn was ordered to deploy to Iraq; Jessica was not. So Jessica decided to put college on hold, and changed her job in the military so that she would be sent to war with her mother.

SGT. MARILYN GONZALEZ: When you told me that you wanted to deploy, I was so angry.

SPC. JESSICA PEDRAZA: I couldn't be the person who had to stay home and worry about you being away. I couldn't do it. And whenever I would go out on a mission, you would go in my room and make my bed. And sometimes, you would come back from your missions and catch me sleeping on your bed.

GONZALEZ: I hope you know they used to tease me, but it was hard not to be mom. Every time I saw you, I wanted to just go up and hug you. And I couldn't do it.

PEDRAZA: I just remember, I always had to, like, sneak and kiss you on the cheek and run. Mom, I love you.

GONZALEZ: Like that day that you said it on the radio.

PEDRAZA: I said, Roger, I love you. And I remember somebody interrupted and they were like, hey, none of that over the radio. And then I heard you just say it right back.

GONZALEZ: Well, I just want to say that you were willing to put your life on the line, to be there with me. I could never tell you how much that means to me.

PEDRAZA: You know, I know that in a way, you were kind of upset at the fact that I chose to do what I did; and give up six college acceptances that I had, to do this with you. But I think that we have the mother and daughter bond, and we have a soldiers' bond, and it's just - nothing more you could ask for.


SIMON: Spc. Jessica Pedraza and her mother, Sgt. Marilyn Gonzalez, at StoryCorps, remembering how they served together in Iraq, in 2010. They're both still active in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. They recorded their conversation in Rockland, Massachusetts, as part of the StoryCorps Military Voices Initiative. Like all StoryCorps interviews, theirs will be archived at the U.S. Library of Congress. To get the StoryCorps podcast, you can visit


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