Chief Petty Officer Patrick Mondragon, U.S. Navy
Currently serving at: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
Children: 2 - daughter age 9, son age 8
Nominated by: Violet Mondragon
Watch Mondragon Finalist Video >>
> Describe CPO Mondragon's ongoing commitment and dedication to his children.
My husband is such a committed and engaged dad. He constantly carves out time for both of our two kids Olivia and Adam. He makes it a point to have one-on-one time with each child. Every year for the last four years, he has taken my daughter to the Father-Daughter Ball. Olivia looks forward to it every year. He is also very active in their school and helps with the PTA, attends award presentations and other school events. He attends at least one school field trip for both kids each year. In our house we make it a point to have dinner as a family every night and he makes sure that he is always home in time for this. He started a holiday family tradition in our house by creating a 25 Days of Christmas activity calendar. Starting on 01 December and going up through Christmas, he does a special activity with the kids every day. It could be something as simple as making marshmallow snowmen, or delivering cookies to our neighbors. Our kids love this.
> Describe CPO Mondragon's extraordinary efforts to father from a distance during military separation.
While onboard the USS BUNKER HILL (CG-52) and forward deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, my husband made it a point to record more than 20 videos of him reading to our children Olivia and Adam, who at the time were ages three and two. He made it a point to record special videos for every occasion, to include first day of school, Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas and even certain situations like having a bad day. These really helped since he was gone through Halloween, both of their birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day. My kids loved these and would sit in front of the TV watching them over and over again. This kept them connected to their daddy and I'm positive it's what got them through the deployment. His regular phone calls home helped as well.
> Describe CPO Mondragon's efforts to successfully balance military life and family life.
When we recently got orders for my husband to go back to sea-duty, we had to choose whether to move closer to his base or stay where we were, meaning a longer commute for him. Since we were settled where we were and our kids were going to a great school, he decided to make the 45-60 minute commute to his new job. He did this so we could be secure and continue to have our network. He quickly established his work ethic at his new job, but also emphasized his work-family balance. He gets up at 4:30am each morning, gets to work an hour early so he can get work done, and makes it a point to leave work by 4pm each day so that we can all have a family dinner together. He also takes two days off from work per month. He uses this time to help out in the kid's classes and be involved. We also use this time for us to have quality one-on-one time while the kids are in school. These investments that he makes into the family bank pay dividends, especially for those periods where he has to be away.
> Describe CPO Mondragon's efforts to mentor/strengthen other military fathers and/or military children who are separated from their fathers.
My husband was the United through Reading Program Coordinator on the USS BUNKER HILL and ran the entire program during their 6 month deployment. United through Reading is where deployed and/or separated Active Duty mothers and fathers can connect with their children through the reading of books which are recorded and mailed out to the families. He was responsible for 300+ recordings which connected families. He also coordinated Family Video Teleconferences during deployments, connecting sailors with their families through live video feeds. This program was a tremendous hit and received highest praises from the commanding officer and more than 100 families. As a Religious Program Specialist in the Navy, my husband's job is to help people and provide them with spiritual care. But he also models this at home. He has raised our kids with the best morals, reads the bible to them, talks to them regularly and really listens and is always there for them.
> Are there any unique elements to CPO Mondragon's story that make him stand out?
A few years back I got a life-threatening AVM in the brain, followed by a pulmonary embolism and chronic blood clotting. Our kids were 2 and 1 at the time. My husband used up all his leave to care for our kids and made time to visit me in the hospital every day. I was there for a month. Even when I got out, he carried the load as I recovered. He continues to take me to my medical appointments, balancing his work-family schedule. Due to my ongoing seizures, I cannot drive, making it extremely difficult at times, but my husband has eased this burden. His tremendous love, patience, understanding and dedication helped our kids feel secure while mommy was sick. I can honestly say that all my husband's hard work and sacrifices have made it possible for my children and I to live and feel like a normal life. We have never been without emotionally, physically and spiritually. My husband is the best father and husband in the world and truly deserves this award!