TORRINGTON, CT, USA - When city woman Kathrina Antwi found out her son Kwaku would be going overseas to fight in Iraq, she felt the expected trepidation of a mother who knows her son would be in harms way.
"I was very upset," Antwi said of the moment the reality dawned on her. "All I did was cry, but I knew that his life is not of this world. I know that God has his hands on him so I knew that he will be fine. Whatever happens is the will of God."
Kwaku, who joined the Air Force two and a half years ago, was transferred with his unit to the Persian Gulf last year, operating out of Karachi, Pakistan. He is a fireman and member of the military police in the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. Last month he was transferred to Baghdad.
Originally from Ghana in West Africa, Antwi, whose father is half-German, came to the United States in 1983 with her then-husband. With Kwaku, who was then only six weeks old, the family settled in Winsted, later moving to Torrington when the couple divorced. Antwi currently owns her own workout facility at 49 Main St. called Kathrina's Fitness Studio.
Raised in Winsted and Torrington, Kwaku grew up with aspirations of becoming a police officer, Antwi said. Before joining the Air Force, Kwaku had worked as a security guard at Lake Ridge Condominiums and was a volunteer firefighter for Burrville Volunteer Fire Department.
"He just likes to protect people," Antwi said. "He saw on television about how other people are being mistreated and his dream is to make sure that other people are treated well."
Kwaku chose a military path in lieu of college because of financial constraints, his mother said.
"I'm a single parent and he'd just graduated from high school. I could not afford to put him through college," said Antwi, who has three younger sons to care for.
Though far away and in danger, Kwaku and his mother make sure to keep close ties for both of their benefits.
"We talk at least twice a week and once a week we talk on the Internet," Antwi said. "He seems OK. Any time that he's a little scared he tells me he's keeping his head above water. Then I know that something's not quite right."
Kwaku is set to come back for extended leave at the end of June or the beginning of July, Antwi said.