Suffolk teen’s sacrifice earns top honor

Posted at 5:26 PM, Apr 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-16 06:21:47-04

Suffolk, Va. - From ROTC, to track, to Cub Scouts and mission trips, you can see why Operation Homefront chose Suffolk teenager Caleb Parsons as their Military Child of the Year.

"It`s very exciting," said the Kings Fork High School senior.  "It`s very humbling."

However, there is more to the 18-year-old's national recognition.  When both of his parents were deployed at the same time last year, Caleb chose to make a sacrifice for his family by caring for his three younger siblings.

"I hit my praying knees a whole lot, but I realized this was a very real situation with real consequences," he said.

Around Christmas last year, Caleb's parents signed over power of attorney to the 18-year-old.

"I still kind of pinch myself saying okay I`m actually home, we got through that," said Caleb's father, Ward Parsons.

Ward Parsons is home for a while from his Coast Guard assignment in Florida.  His wife, an Air Force reservist, is still deployed overseas.  He said it was a tough decision to allow Caleb to care for his brothers and sister, but he said Caleb took action to keep their family going while mom and dad were gone.

"He just kind of looks at me and he says I got it dad.  We can do this," the father said.

With help from other military families, Caleb got his siblings to school, after school activities, fed -- and in the bed by a decent time.

"Everybody was in bed by 9 o`clock most of the time," said Caleb.  "First couple of weeks wasn`t like that."

"We would go to the park a couple of times, and we would go over to other people`s houses a lot because that restricted time for us to fight," Caleb joked.

"It was boring but it was also fun at the same time," said Kyleah Parsons.

Caleb and his dad both say their faith in God and family is what has really kept them going strong.

"If you don`t have a solid rock to stand on, then you`ll crumble," said Ward Parsons.

After Caleb graduates from Kings Fork in the summer, he will be heading to West Point for Army Officer Training.

"I report June 29 and I graduate June 6, so I`ve got 23 days of woo hoo! Freedom!" Caleb said.

Caleb will be honored April 16 in Washington, D.C. by Operation Homefront.  He will receive $10,000 and a laptop.