MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- With Yuma Marines deploying regularly in support of the Global War on Terror, spouses are more often finding themselves left to keep the home fires burning on their own.
A strong sense of purpose surrounds CC Vizcarrondo -- after all, she has an 11 year old and an 18 month old, both boys, to take care of while her husband, Staff Sgt. Keith Vizcarrondo, is deployed with Marine Attack Squadron-513 with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable).
Looking at her ready smile, it is easy to see she is a positive, upbeat woman. Laughter is part of her life, and a little thing like her husband deploying isn't going to keep that laughter and sense of fun from either her or her children.
"I keep myself going so I'm not so gloomy, and I try to be a part of (what) the boys are doing," Vizcarrondo said. "I'm a soccer mom -- my oldest, Alfonso, participates in a lot of sports. Diego is in the (Child Development Center), so I help them out with a lot of things, such as the Easter egg hunt.
"By the time I know it, after school and homework, it's 8 p.m. already and I crawl up with a book and get ready for the next day," she added.
Before her husband left on his latest deployment, Vizcarrondo worked as the general manager of the Holiday Inn Express hotel in Yuma. The first time her husband deployed, Diego had not yet been born, so she had her work to keep herself busy, Vizcarrondo said. But for this deployment, she wanted to do something a little different.
"I thought it was time to stay with the kids, because they needed me more here than they did me working fourteen hours," the 31-year-old Las Vegas native said. "I may be working again in June; 'Mommy' just took a break from work is all. My kids keep me going -- they bring a lot of smiles."
It is easy to see how her children keep her spirits up. Alfonso is a handsome, athletic, responsible young man who loves to play with his brother and helps his mom around the house. Diego is a happy child, one to whom a smile looks like a permanent fixture on his face. Elmo is his favorite -- his stuffed Elmo is nearly his size, but he has no problem dragging him out to show his new friends -- he knows just when "Elmo's World" comes on. He can be found happily perched in front of the TV, eagerly waiting, at the same time every day.
"You have to live life as if your husband was home," Vizcarrondo said. "It's not like the old days, when you didn't have e-mail or the telephone, because they do. I try not to think so much about him being gone. We e-mail a lot and he calls when he can, and both the boys get to talk to him, too."
It is not always so easy to live that way, though, she added.
"Some days I do get mad. Sometimes I have bad days. But I get over it, I move on," she said. "If you're depressed, your life is going to be depressing. (Deployments are) part of my husband's job, and I support him 100 percent. You have to live life to the fullest, even if your husband is deployed."
It is that attitude of self-reliance that helps keep Vizcarrondo the upbeat person she is, said Elvira Leyva, a friend and neighbor of two years.
"She's a very independent person and she doesn't dwell on things," said Leyva, whose husband, Pete, is a sergeant with the remain-behind element of Marine Wing Support Squadron-371. "She gets sad, but she moves on with it. She can't wait for her husband to get home, but she has to live her life and help her kids live theirs."
Vizcarrondo is not only independent, but intelligent, outgoing and would do anything for anybody, Leyva said.
"Her husband is very lucky to have her," Leyva added. "She's much more independent than I am. She has no problem just up and saying 'I'm going to have a barbecue.' She doesn't wait until her husband comes back first. I would never try to work the grill without my husband at home."
"I look at the good things -- I have a countdown going, and I tell the oldest to just think; when you get out of school, a week later we'll be picking up your dad," Vizcarrondo said.
Knowing his wife can handle almost any situation that may arise helps when deployed, Keith said via e-mail.
"She is an outgoing, happy and charismatic person. I think that she is good at constantly making the best out of whatever situation we are in," said the 26-year-old native of Albuquerque, N.M. "I am never honestly 100 percent at ease, but I just manage to concentrate hard on work when we have it, and when we don't I think of home.
"I would like to thank my wife and two sons for the sacrifices they have made during these deployments," the AV-8B Harrier airframes mechanic said. "I love them and would not be the Marine I am without them."
The countdown continues, and Vizcarrondo is determined to continue living life to the best of her abilities until her husband gets home. For other spouses whose husbands are on deployment, Vizcarrondo lives by the advice she gives.
"Don't sit and dwell on what your husband is doing -- they are out making the world a better place," she said. "Remember to live life to the fullest; keep yourself going so you're not so gloomy. You can make it."