|Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier|
Glenn and Darcy Grovenstein pose in the “military shrine” room in their Prescott Valley home. Three of their four children have served or are currently serving in the military, with a total of four 15-month tours in Afghanistan between them.
|Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier|
Darcy Grovenstein holds her favorite photo of her four children, three of whom have served tours of duty in Afghanistan.
The Daily Courier
There's no doubt that Glenn and Darcy Grovenstein are proud parents.
Dozens of photos of the Grovenstein children - Whitney, 29, Emory, 24, Ezekiel (Zeke), 22, and Lacy, 21 - line the walls of their living room, hallway and family room.
But it's one photo in particular that draws Darcy's attention.
"This is my favorite photo of all the kids," Darcy said holding up the frame to show the three boys decked out in their military best standing alongside their sister. "They all just look so good in their uniforms and Lacy in her dress. They look so grown-up."
"We really honestly had no idea that our kids would be in the military," she added.
The Grovensteins' introduction into military life began when Whitney received a scholarship to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He later left the university to pursue a degree in history education at Northern Arizona University. Whitney joined the Army after graduating from NAU.
Emory soon followed in his older brother's footsteps, also attending the aeronautical university on a scholarship. He also enlisted in the Army.
The youngest of the three boys, Zeke, decided to enlist in the Marines right out of high school.
Lacy thought about going into the military, but she decided to take a different route, Darcy said.
One of the toughest parts of being a parent of a soldier or Marine is watching your child ship out overseas.
All three Grovenstein boys served in Afghanistan and, at one point, all at the same time.
"I've gone completely gray thinking about the boys leaving," Darcy said with tears welling up in her eyes. "But we have faith and that's sustained us. But at the same time, they were gone for so long."
The Grovensteins were able to stay connected to the boys and track their whereabouts through email and Skype.
"It was interesting because each of the boys experienced Afghanistan in a different way," Darcy said. "Whitney saw it from the air, Zeke saw it from crisscrossing in a wrecker, and Emory saw it working in a village with Afghan National Security Forces."
But it was one early-morning phone call from Zeke that would test Glenn and Darcy's strength as parents.
"I thought it was kind of weird that he was calling, especially since we just talked a couple of days ago and it was so early here," Glenn said. "And he says to me, 'Dad, I got blown up.'"
The explosion caused Zeke and the other Marines in the vehicle to immediately bleed out of their noses and ears, Glenn said. Zeke was in and out of consciousness for three days from the force of the blast.
This past May, Zeke received the Purple Heart medal for his service. Two more Purple Heart medals are pending.
While the war still continues in the Middle East, all three boys are back home safe.
After serving his four years in the Marines, Zeke was honorably discharged in August 2012. He is currently working in construction in Alaska.
Emory returned to the states in June. He and his wife, Ashley, are stationed in Ft. Lewis, Wash.
Whitney returned home in June 2012 and is stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas.