Beard grown in honor of family across the sea

Posted on 02 October 2013 by admin

Military brother refuses to shave beard until brothers return from Afghanistan

Ryan Flores, 25, is growing out his beard until his brothers return from Afghanistan.

By: DALILA KAHVEDZIC
Staff Designer

Most people would probably walk by Ryan Flores, STLCC-Meramec student, noticing him for his beard. What most people do not know or realize, is that it is a deployment beard.

At the age of 25, Flores is accomplishing his general education degree at Meramec, hoping to transfer to a four-year college to pursue political science. His two brothers are stationed in Afghanistan, and until they return, Flores refuses to shave his beard.

“[Enlisting is] a really long two year process,” Flores said. “A month here, two months there, it’s been pretty tough on the family but it’s what they want to do.”

Flores’ two younger brothers, Russell Flores, 21, and Romeo Flores, 20, both voluntarily enrolled in the National Guard and are stationed in Afghanistan, a decision supported by the whole family. The Flores family has a history of military involvement. Their father, Randy Flores, has served in the Air Force for 31 years and just recently retired. Growing up their father used to always tell them ‘I served this country so you don’t have to,’ so they did not feel pressured to.

Flores thought about enlisting, but he at least wanted to have a bachelor’s degree before he would pursue it. He is fine with the physical aspect, but does not think he could put his family through all the emotional stresses caused by enlisting. Flores believes it is a double-edged sword. Flores believes his brothers were anxious but the rest of the family was the more fearful ones. Flores understands that the experiences of war can stick with you.

“[It’s] not necessarily that they wouldn’t come home, but that when they did, it would be different,” Flores said.

The deployment beard started a few months before Russell Flores and Romeo Flores left in July. Flores and his family attended “briefings” which were meetings in which the family was told what to expect during deployment. The beard was an idea that both his dad and Flores wanted to do together, but his dad backed out because his mom didn’t like it. Flores’ girlfriend, Ashley, hates the beard but is warming up to it and understands the meaning behind it.

“While the soldiers are over there, they think that time stops for everybody else at home, it’s like a different world,” Flores said. “So one of the reasons that I’m kind of doing this, is a) for fun, and b) because it shows them exactly how long they’ve been gone, it gives them a kind of time frame.”

According to Flores, Russell Flores is very ambitious and always strives to do a little bit of everything, while Romeo Flores wants to be a pilot. Flores supports the decisions of his little brothers and thinks of them fondly.

“[They are] those little kids who used to come and terrorize me and stuff like that,” Flores said. “Then seeing them as men and doing what they want to do in the military and devoting themselves to a cause is pretty inspiring.”

 

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