By Adam Madison
Capt. Bruno de Solenni, 32, has found a new family among his comrades in arms while serving in Afghanistan with the Oregon National Guard, but his Crescent City family would like him home.
Mario de Solenni, Bruno's father and a Crescent City lawyer, said he thinks about his son "all the time, and it's hard to talk about it without crying."
Mario said his son had served more than a year in Egypt, a year and a half in Iraq and is now training Afghan military to fight against the Taliban while fighting off Taliban attacks.
Mario said a recent article in a Portland newspaper (which is reprinted in today's Triplicate) shed light on the hardships his son is facing.
"He's in Afghanistan until December; hopefully he'll be home for Christmas," said Mario, doubt apparent in his voice. "I hope he comes back alive and in one piece."
Mario said his son was a timber-faller and a fisherman in Del Norte County when he began serving with the Oregon National Guard.
"He's got a boat down in the harbor, the Sea Bell," Mario said.
He said he raised his sons, Gino, Bruno and his twin brother, Ricardo, locally and that the seclusion of Crescent City is what brought him here from Los Angeles.
"Last weekend I've been here 40 years, I couldn't believe it's been that long," said Mario this week.
"My goal as long as I lived in the L.A. area was to get as far out of the area as I could," he said, laughing. "Del Norte County was as far as I could get away from L.A. without having to retake the bar exam."
Bruno graduated in 1994 from Del Norte High School, where he played soccer.
Even though Mario doesn't support the war in Afghanistan or the Iraq war, he said he wholeheartedly supports his son.
"I respect and defend his position in the war, but I don't support the war," Mario said. "We're in there now and we obviously need to do something about it."
Mario said his father, Gino de Solenni Sr., fought in both world wars, which may have had something to do with Bruno's decision to join the Guard.
"His grandfather served in World War I and World War II and was a captain in the U.S. Army," said Mario, adding that after the wars he became a major.
Bruno's mother, California Martin, who has been a teacher at Del Norte High for 24 years, provided more background into her son's decision to join the Oregon Guard.
"He's always been fascinated with the military and history," said "Cali" Martin.
She said Bruno joined the Oregon Guard because he was able to do that part-time while working toward his bachelor's degree from Southern Oregon University in Ashland.
Cali said Bruno's knowledge of history made him "realize there's a jihad going on at this very moment and this has happened throughout history."
She said Bruno's philosophy on war changed drastically after the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.
Cali said after the attacks he said "either we deal with the terrorists here or over there."
Bruno's twin brother, Ricardo, owner of Wood's Plumbing in Crescent City, felt the same way as their father about his brother joining the Guard.
"You know, I didn't agree with it, but it was his choice," Ricardo said.
He has been in constant contact with his brother, and talked with him by satellite phone recently.
"I talked to him the other day. He's perky, but he's lost a lot of weight."
Ricardo said he didn't know what was wrong with his brother, just that he was sick and has lost 30 pounds.
"He's lost too much weight to go back out on patrol."
The weight loss wasn't bothering his brother as much as not being able to go out on patrol, said Ricardo.
"He said he feels really guilty about it you have friends out there so you want to go back in," he said.
Ricardo said the horrors that Bruno has witnessed since being in Afghanistan make him believe he needs to be there.
"You've never walked into a village and seen what the Taliban do," Ricardo said his brother told him. "They beat people, behead them, you've never seen the aftermath."
Ricardo wishes his brother was home, so he didn't have to worry about who was shooting at him, or how sick he was and not being able to do anything about it.
"I want him to come home, I don't want him to be over there, that's for sure," he said. "Like any other family member."
Ricardo said the camaraderie Bruno felt with the men he served with in Egypt and Iraq and the newfound friends he has made in Afghanistan have kept his brother in the Guard.
"He's got a good relationship with all of the guys over there and I think that's what keeps him going," Ricardo said.