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Paula Nord
U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Soto
Mother, Son Get Together While Serving in Iraq
By Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Malec
Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office,
4th Infantry Division
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, Sept. 13, 2006 — Christmas time came early for a soldier and his mother, who are both currently serving in Iraq.

Sgt. Robert Soto, a multiple-launch rocket system repairman with 67th Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, Fires Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, who manages the maintenance team for Battery A, 2-20 FA’s MLRS fleet, visited his mother, Paula Nord, who serves as a transportation operations coordinator for Kellogg, Brown and Root at Forward Operating Base Scania, Multi-National Division – South, while on a mission with his unit Sept. 3.

While Soto, a 14-year Army veteran, is currently assigned to Camp Liberty on his second tour in Iraq, his mom, Paula, has been at Scania since October 2003.

“She can close her eyes and tell you where everything is on this base,” chuckled Soto, as mother and son playfully heckled each other.

When Nord first arrived at Scania, Soto was nearing the end of his first tour of duty in Iraq.  One day in mid-December 2003, she received a pleasant surprise – a phone call from her youngest son, who was serving in Camp Taji.      
“And the next thing I knew, my camp manager told me that we had a business trip to go to Taji, so I got to see my kid for Christmas for a couple of days,” beamed Nord.

As fate would have it, the two Chicago natives reunited for another Christmas in 2005 when Soto stopped off at Scania on a convoy from Kuwait to Baghdad as he began his second tour in Iraq.

“I’ve seen my mom in Iraq for two Christmas seasons,” said Soto, with a wide, toothy grin. “So, we basically have lucked out in seeing each other.”

“It was definitely the best Christmas present I could get – to see my son over Christmas,” said Nord. Shortly after her son deployed in 2003, Nord joined friends in applying to work overseas with Kellogg, Brown and Root but said she didn’t think she would get hired.  Much to her surprise, she was called to service a few months later. 

“I’ve asked her to come home many times, but I’m the son,” said Soto, with a chuckle. 

But this doesn’t stop him from worrying about his mom’s safety.

“I worry about her being over here every single day, and I tell her that she’s the most important thing in my life,” he said. “But this is what she chose, and this is what she likes to do.”

Paula Nord, transportation coordinator for Kellogg, Brown and Root at Forward Operating Base Scania, receives a welcome hug from her son, Sgt. Robert Soto, a multiple-launch rocket systems maintainer with the 67th Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, Fires Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, during a mission stopover at Scania Sept. 3. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Malec

Soto said he credits his enthusiasm for military service to his family history.

“My mother was in; my father was in, and so were my uncle and my older brother.  So as far as the Soto history goes back, just about every one of us has been in the military,” said Soto.

Since arriving in Scania, Nord said she has noticed progress in a nation that was under a dictatorship for 30 years.

“We had the opportunity to observe our workers the day they came back from the first vote. It was so exciting for them, and that’s all they talked about,” boasted Nord. “They all waved their thumb around; they had ink on them; they went and voted. You know, to them, it was very, very important.”

As she closes in on her third year in Iraq, Nord said she isn’t sure how much longer she will stay at Scania. 
“I don’t know if it’s going to be four; that remains to be seen because you never know what tomorrow will bring so you just take it one day at a time,” said Nord.

But her son said he knows his mom better than that.

“My mom doesn’t know the word quit,” said Soto, with a mile-wide smile.  “It’s not even in her vocabulary.  She will not quit anything.”
Last Updated:
09/13/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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