Thursday, December 7, 2023

A Local Teen Tells the Story of an Iraq War Veteran Born and Bred in Ukiah


This story was composed by 14-year-old Ukiah teen Garrett Weaver to honor the life and sacrifice of Amanda Louise Pardini, a veteran of the Second Iraq War. Garrett’s writing is part of Wreaths Across America’s efforts to recognize the men and women who served the United States. Kudos to Garrett for his wonderful writing and thank you for being willing to share.

Amanda Louise Pardini standing in front of a hummer [All pictures provided by Garrett Weaver]

Amanda Louise Pardini was born in Ukiah at Ukiah General Hospital on  July 7, 1976, to Richard Allen Pardini Sr. and Cindy Pickrell of Ukiah. She was raised by her stepdad Roy Pickrell and mother Cindy Pickrell. She had three siblings, one older brother, and two sisters. She grew up in Ukiah very active in sports doing cheerleading and trying out for the San Fransisco 49ers cheerleading squad, while her brothers played football. Her mother,  Cindy worked in multiple jobs but retired from the food services for the  Ukiah Unified School District while her father, Richard Pardini, was mostly in and out of work after his time in the Navy. Her stepdad was the owner of Diesel Truck and Equipment in Ukiah. He retired from Shimmick Construction out of Tracey. She has several people in her family who have served in the military including her brother who served in the Navy, her father who served in the Navy, her stepfather who served in the Marines, her brother-in-law who served in the Army, and her grandfathers who served in the Navy, and one who served in the Marines earning the purple heart and silver star awards.  

While growing up in Mendocino County, her first job was working in the local pear sheds. Amanda also worked as a medical receptionist for Blue  Cross and Blue Shield right out of high school.  

After high school graduation, Amanda went straight to college and earned three associate degrees from Mendocino College in Liberal Arts, Small Business Management, and Administrative Assistance. To further her education, she earned two specialty certificates at Mendocino College in Legal Studies and Shorthand Writing. While in the military she started her bachelor’s degree from Kaplan University in Legal Study. After serving, she earned her master’s degree from Grantham University in Project Management.  

Pardidni in the sands of Iraq

Frustrated with 9/11 and wanting to make a “quiet difference” as well as not knowing what direction she wanted to go in her life, Amanda voluntarily enlisted in the Air Force on April 26, 2022, at the age of twenty-four. She attended boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where for the first time, she shot her M16 rifle with an m203-grenade  launcher attached. She told me that the most exciting thing she got to do in training with her weapon, was when she got to “blow things up!” with her rifle.  

Amanda started as an E1 in the Air Force in her home base of Mountain  Home, Idaho. Her MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) job was Security Force, police officer, and security for their Air Force base. She deployed to Kuwait first and she told me “The Kuwaitis didn’t really want to hurt us; they just wanted our money”. Her second deployment was to Iraq at the base of  Taili which was on the border of Iraq and Kuwait. There she was responsible for protecting the base, border patrol in and out of the base and the surrounding community. She also toured the schools and said “Iraqis didn’t want their children to go to school and get an education, it was more important for them to serve in the war”. She told us how the Iraqis would pull children from the schools. So, her Air Force officers would help protect those children in their classrooms to allow them to get an education. The Army was short on soldiers, so the Air Force would help serve in this area.  Due to the Army being short-staffed, Amanda gave intel to her command post which was given to the Air Force sniper team. She would take the intel from a Texas family that was homeless in the hills of Iraq and convey it to her command post. They discovered that the Iraqis were stealing materials like copper from the base melting it down and selling it and sneaking through the hills at night to do it. Because of her intel, they caught the Iraqis who committed these crimes. Amanda, not wanting credit for this intel, told her officers about the Bedelin family, and the Army and Air Force provided supplies and shelter and protected them after this as a reward.  

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Amanda did several tours and was enlisted for four years, 1 month, and 1 day in the Air Force, from the age of 24 to 28, completing her service as an E4 enlisted. The day she was deployed was the scariest day she ever experienced. The Iraqis would get intel about when the shifts would change for the Air Force officers and that day, in the early morning, Iraq bombed her Air Force camp, destroying the living quarters, bathrooms and tent where she slept. She was within hours of being in that camp location and being a target. 

She did make it home safely after that tour, and once she was out of the Air  Force, she served as a civilian for a military company called KBR (Kellogg  Brown & Root) provided transportation from the camp, for deployment,  re-deployment, and R & R(Rest and Relaxation) for the Marines, Army and the Airforce.  

Today Amanda is 47 years old and is a disabled veteran with some mental,  emotional, and physical problems. She is a stay-at-home mom and does odd jobs around town. She experiences PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress  Disorder) as well as tremors or nightmares about what she saw and experienced during her tour in Iraq. She sees a counselor regularly and is part of a buddy system for retired veterans who reach out monthly to support one another. Please join me in thanking Amanda for serving her country as well as all the veterans!  

This year, the National Wreaths Across America Day ceremony for our location will be shared on Saturday, December 16th, 2023 at 9 AM. All sponsored veteran wreaths in 2023 will be placed throughout the day on Saturday, December 16th, by volunteers who have either come to our ceremony or signed up to participate. This year's Wreaths Across America theme is “Serve and  Succeed”. To join us in laying veteran wreaths, please visit our official Wreaths Across America webpage at https://wreathsacrossamerica.org/pages/17815 to sign up for a specific time slot by clicking the red Volunteer button. If you have special requests, please contact the volunteer Location Coordinator at RRCD@PACIFIC.NET or (707) 462-8012 to make those arrangements.
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    • It a choice I made and I am so glad I made it. I many wonderful memories and am so glad I was able to do something for my country. Not everyone is able to make a difference is such a big way.

  1. THANK YOU 🙏 Amanda for your service to our country and for sharing your story. This week is Veterans Day 🇺🇸 I am a veteran and would encourage all citizens to thank and honor the men and women of our armed forces for their sacrifices for the freedoms we citizens of the United States of America enjoy and for protecting our democracy.

    Ps. Please correct the details in Amanda s story to reflect her actual age and dates of service. She was 26 in 2002 the beginning of the Iraq war and 30 when she honored her 4 year commitment. Once again Thank You Amanda 🇺🇸

  2. I went to school with Amanda. From kindergarten to high school graduation. We were nothing more than casual acquaintances, but, after 13 years of seeing a person almost everyday for 8-9 months out of the year, you get a sense of familiarity & kinship. I remember her being a very sweet, kind, gentle, outgoing & confident kid/young lady.

    I saw her for the 1st time in at least 28 years at the pumpkin fest a few weeks back. I didn’t say hi. I dont think she recognized me. I just was happy to see a face from my earliest memories on earth & she seemed to be having a good time.

    I’m not on social media so I lost track of about 95% of everyone I’ve ever known from school days. Thank you for this letter! This was a bittersweet read.

    And to, Amanda, thank you for your service & bravery! I admire your fortitude & strength in going into & coming out of serving your country & protecting your countrymen! I wish you health & happiness going forward in your life.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. Please say Hi anytime you see me. I lost most of my memories so sometimes I think I remember people, but I am not always sure. It may take me a bit to remember, but I usually always do remember.

  3. I grew up with Amanda’s older brother and lets just say both our families came from humble beginnings. Thank You for your service Amanda it is appreciated and I am Happy to see you persevered worked hard and made a good life for yourself. Happy Veterans Day Amanda

  4. There’s a typo to the extent the article says she was born in July 1976 and joined the military at the age of 24 in April 2022. More like she joined in 2002 at age 25

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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