Tabitha Bonilla Loses Dad and Husband in Iraq War
By BOBBY ROSS JR.
Less than a year ago, Tabitha Bonilla's father gave his life for his country in Iraq. Last week, her husband gave his, too.
Army Capt. Orlando A. Bonilla, 27, of Killeen, Texas, was killed Wednesday in a helicopter accident in Baghdad. Her father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Henry A. Bacon, 45, died last February in a vehicle accident.
Through tears and long pauses, Orlando Bonilla's wife - and Henry Bacon's daughter - tried to "do justice," as she put it, to the two most important men in her life.
"I stand behind my daddy and my husband, and I stand behind the job they had to do, and that's my take on it," she said. "I just support them, regardless of who sent them over there and why they sent them over there, no matter whether it's for right or wrong reasons."
Orlando Bonilla was attending the University of Texas at Austin and waiting to get his Army commission when he took a part-time job at a Target store in fall 1999.
That's where he met his future wife, a fellow Target employee whose father was stationed at Fort Hood.
Bonilla's "easygoing, sweet, gentlemanly" personality attracted Tabitha Bacon to him, she said. He told her he had decided in high school that he wanted to be an Army pilot. "He liked flying," she said.
Tabitha Bonilla's mechanic father died when he was hit by one vehicle while making repairs on another in Dujayl, Iraq. Bacon, who joined the Army in 1982, had delayed his retirement to serve in the war on terrorism, relatives said.
Bacon's death delayed his son-in-law's deployment to Iraq, but only for a few months.
The Bonillas, who married at Fort Hood, would have celebrated their third wedding anniversary March 16. He would have turned 28 on March 18. But instead of parties, his widow must now plan a funeral.
"I wanted to show him that I could be strong," said Tabitha Bonilla, 23, explaining why she did not pressure her husband to stay home. "I told him that my biggest regret would be that if he left too and wouldn't come back."