As President Barack Obama is expected to lay out a blueprint Wednesday for drawing down troops in Afghanistan, family members of a Queens soldier who died in the war are skeptical about hearing any definitive answers. NY1's Tetiana Anderson filed the following report.
Queens family members have framed all the medals of Specialist Roberto Hernandez, who was killed in Afghanistan in June 2009. An improvised explosive device caused his death, just months before he was scheduled to return home.
"An IED exploded and he was driving what they call a 'Humvee,' and it overthrew the Humvee and he was tossed to the side and insurgents came and attacked while he was down," said Paulina Campbell-Richards, Hernandez's mother.
By December 2009, President Barack Obama had announced a surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan. At the time, Campbell-Richards and her family told NY1 they were cautious about what to expect from that plan.
As Obama is now scheduled to lay out his plan to bring troops home on Wednesday, Hernandez's mother and aunt said they are not getting their hopes up. They said they want to hear definitive answers about how the troop draw-down will work, but they were skeptical.
"I don't think that's what I am going to hear, I think I am going to hear another sugar-coating of the situation," said Campbell-Richards. "I don't think he's going to answer the direct questions. I think he's going to be indirect about it and not give you a definitive answer, a possible answer, a maybe answer."
The president is expected to announce a reduction of 5,000 troops by next month, and a broader strategy to recall the rest of the 30,000 forces called for in December 2009.
"Strategy doesn't mean anything. I want action, I want people out, I want people home with their families," said Virginia Tomlinson, Hernandez's aunt.
Hernandez's relatives said they think Obama is under political pressure to please everyone, and they said that leaves troops in harm's way.
"He's a politician. He has to play and dance for everyone," said Tomlinson. "Maybe he'll pull out some, 10,000, but there will be 30,000 there in the end."
Some presidential advisors want a significant troop decrease in the coming months, but the military favors a more gradual withdrawal.
Either way, the goal is to hand control of Afghanistan to Afghans by 2014.