By Tony Parra
It was a Christmas for the entire Isaacs’ family to remember — a holiday in which Galen and Barbara’s sons were all together at the dinner table instead of a foreign country fighting a war.
It was the first time in 2 1/2 years all three boys — Corey, 27, Toby, 22 and Eric, 20 — were together at the same place with their parents, according to Galen Isaacs, their father. Galen Isaacs also said it’s the first Christmas the entire family spent together since the Christmas of 2000.
“I tell you it was wonderful to have them all together,” Galen raved. “It was like old times, again. When the whole family was together, it was like nothing had ever happened. It was back to normal.”
Galen and Barbara Isaacs also have a daughter, Jennifer, who is 23 years old. Being the only offspring who was not serving in the army, Jennifer Isaacs was still involved in the dinner stories about Iraq, according to Toby.
Galen Isaacs said the boys recounted many stories from Iraq and talked to the family about funny and weird incidents. Corey was the son Galen and Barbara had not seen for the longest time — 2 1/2 years.
The Isaacs put up American flags on November of 2003 to signify each of their sons and for their love for their country.
“It was nice to be back in the area,” Corey said about being in Portales. “I had seen the flags in the pictures. It’s very patriotic. They are sharing their love for their country.”
Galen said Corey arrived in Portales on Friday, Eric on Saturday and Toby on Sunday. Toby said he has been doing a lot of catching up with friends and family and visited with an old Portales High School friend, Dusty Nusser.
Galen said the boys have been extremely fortunate not to be injured and their platoons did not suffer many casualties. Galen said the boys didn’t mention losing any close friends during the Iraq invasion. In fact, Galen said Corey had 55 members in his platoon and they endured the invasion without any casualties.
Corey said he didn’t watch the news on television for the first few days when he arrived at Portales. He said he wanted to relax and “let go of the events” during the Christmas break.
Eric said he doesn’t watch the news on television, but for different reasons.
“Every time I saw it, there was a suicide bomber or a soldier on trial,” Eric said. “They don’t really show the soldiers restoring order, cleaning up the area and rebuilding schools.”
Galen Isaacs has served as a pastor for the Kenna Community Church, approximately 33 miles southwest of Portales, for the last six years.
“They always raised us to be responsible and that God has a plan for us,” Toby said. “They taught us to have faith in God.”
Barbara said during the invasion, Corey and Eric were in Baghdad while Toby was north of Baghdad. State senator Stuart Ingle (R-Portales) approached Galen with an offer to bring one of the three boys out of Iraq during a chance encounter. Neither Corey, Toby or Eric wanted to leave their units behind.
“I had heard about it, but I wasn’t about to leave my platoon,” Corey said. “I was the platoon sergeant of 22 soldiers. The decision was actually easy for me. I wasn’t going to leave them.”
Eric said he wasn’t going to leave his “second family” behind either.
“I had been with them for six months,” Eric said. “We toured and fought together. We had a bond and we couldn’t leave each other until we completed our mission.”
Eric left Portales on Monday and will continue his service in Germany, while Toby and Corey will leave Portales during the first week of January, according to Galen. Galen said Toby will be serving the United States in Afghanistan in March, while Corey will continue his service in Germany.
“It was wonderful to have everybody together,” Barbara Isaacs said. “The house was full of life. This was probably the best Christmas ever.”