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Dromynique Chestnut, son of 1st Sgt. Marcus Chestnut, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, smiles at a video of his dad congratulating him on graduating from gigh school during a banquet May 10, 2011.

Photo by Diane Durden

Deployed Marines congratulate graduates via video

13 May 2011 | Diane Durden

Two Twentynine Palms High School seniors received special congratulatory video messages from their deployed fathers, Tuesday during the school’s senior banquet.

First Sgt. Marcus Chestnut and Sgt. Maj. Peter Cooper are both deployed to Afghanistan, and were unable to attend their children’s graduation ceremonies. With the help of technology and caring people back home, they were able to be there in some way and bring a smile to their children’s faces.

Surrounded by friends and classmates, Dromynique Chestnut heard his name announced over the loud speaker. The expression on his face quickly moved from surprise to happiness as he watched and listened to a video from his dad, who is the first sergeant for Combat Logistics Battalion 7.

“Congratulations! Job well done!” said Chestnut in a video produced in Afghanistan. Chestnut is serving at Camp Dwyer on a 7-month deployment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“My dad surprised me,” said Dromynique after watching the video with his classmates. Classmate Kirsten Cooper received a similar greeting from Afghanistan. Kirsten was not able to attend the banquet. However, she did see and hear her father’s message with friends and school personnel earlier that day.

“I need you to know that your dad is overwhelmed with pride and joy,” said Kirsten’s dad, Sgt. Maj. Peter Cooper, the squadron sergeant major of Marine Attack Squadron 513, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz.

Like most children of military members, Dromynique has grown accustomed to his father being deployed and not being able to attend special occasions. His absence is never easy, he said.

“I feel empty when he’s gone,” said Dromynique sadly. But it was obvious the video helped to fill that void, because talking about it and seeing his Dad brought a smile to his face.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms