You can hear how proud she is of her dad as she talks about his service. His Navy hat, the decorated metals layed out carefully in a beautiful cherrywood frame, the wars he’s served in. All of these things are precious to Zabdi because they symbolize her father’s sacrifice and service to the United States. 

“I feel like my dad is not just a dad, he’s a hero. Because of my dad’s service, I view things differently. When I look at the United States flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance, I think of my dad and visualize him in uniform. It makes me proud of him.”

Zabdi Piña, a senior at Nimitz High School, and her father, Angel Piña, have a very special bond. A bond that is built on the values Angel learned in the military- trust, respect, integrity, honor and courage. Angel served in two branches, the Army and Navy.

“I left the army in 1997 and two months before 9/11, I joined the Navy. I stayed active in the Navy throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I was deployed twice to the Middle East for six months at a time. I also conducted operations in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf protecting our Navy ships from pirates and terrorist attacks. I’m happy to say that our ships always stayed safe.” 

Angel is now a veteran, having served 15 years in the military. He attributes who is he today from those years. He is the father and husband he always envisioned, but he understands that came at a price. He is grateful for the sacrifice his family made when he was deployed. 

“It wasn’t just me in the service. My whole family paid the price for my service. When I was deployed for six months at a time, my wife had to take care of our four children and take care of our finances. I want this experience, these sacrifices, to leave a legacy of service, honor, love and faith. I don’t consider myself a hero. Everything I did was for my family.”

Zabdi remembers those times. “When I was little, I remember my dad being absent for long periods. It was really hard because I would see my friends with their dads. But knowing that my dad was doing for something for everyone and keeping us safe, it made me feel better.”

What does Angel’s future look like? It’s bright. Angel is currently a federal police office for VA hospital, but is studying to become a teacher, just like Zabdi. Angel believes it’s important to raise the next generation of children dedicated to service and honor. Who better to teach those values than Angel!