He was the gentle one, the son whose slight frame and calm demeanor belied his ambition to be a soldier.
He was deployed to Iraq in November. He wrote jaunty e-mails to his family regularly, the prose livened with a joy that seemed incongruous with his full-time job patrolling a deadly war zone. His heart was swept away by a woman he met in Germany.
"He even liked the military food," said his father, Tony Farrar, a Rialto police captain and, on this day, a broken-hearted man straining to keep his upper lip stiff.
But what 20-year-old Army Pfc. William A. "Tony" Farrar Jr. liked to write about recently was coming home.
In an e-mail last week, Tony Jr. wrote to his father about taking some R&R in August and attending a family gathering in Wisconsin.
But on Friday, Tony Jr. was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near the Humvee he was driving through the desert of Al Iskandariyah, about 30 miles south of Baghdad. The blast from the IED, or improvised explosive device, penetrated the Humvee's armor but sparedother soldiers riding with Farrar.
Sitting in the living room of their Redlands home on a gray Tuesday morning, Tony Jr.'s father and stepmother talked with calm solemnity about fateful decisions, duty to country and the sense of invulnerability shattered when military personnel knocked on their door and delivered the news no parent wants to hear.
A modest-sized American flag swayed above their porch, suddenly woven with more meaning than ever before, Farrar said.
"We've never experienced anything like this," said Farrar, a 19-year veteran of the Rialto Police Department. "At first, it all seemed kind of untrue. It's really sunk in now."
Tony Jr. joined the military in September 2005 after graduating from Palm Springs High School. Deployed to Iraq in November, it was his first tour.
The police captain has another son, Kenny, 18, who joined the Marines in December and could be deployed to the war zone.
Farrar, 46, recalled Tony Jr. as a child, growing up the oldest in a family steeped in law enforcement and military pride.
"Him and his brother wanted to be soldiers since they were little," he said. "They loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a while, then it was toy weapons, plastic swords and guns. But as he got older, I think he looked at it as a stepping stone, an opportunity" for either a military career or one in law enforcement.
Farrar paused, a bit of moisture leaking from his eyes.
"It was just the first step for him," Farrar said.
Cathy Farrar, Tony Jr.'s stepmother for almost all his life, described how the first time he tried to enlist he was rejected for being too light for his height.
"He was about eight pounds off," Cathy remembered, smiling beneath saddened eyes. "He was very slightly built, and very soft and gentle, especially with his (younger) sisters."
Farrar didn't push his eldest son into military service, but was proud of his decision. Farrar knows it's sometimes inevitable for the parents of a fallen soldier to second-guess the past.
"It's what he wanted to do," Farrar said. "There are jobs people do because they choose to do it ... somebody's got to want to do it. As a parent you just give them the support they need, what else is there to do?"
Tony Jr.'s body was flown to Delaware on Tuesday, Farrar said. From there, he will be flown to Ontario. Funeral arrangements were pending, but will probably be next week.
The Farrars sat in their hardwood-floored living room, where they were last week when military personnel walked up the driveway on a mild evening and told them their son was dead.
To Cathy, the last few days have shredded the veil of safety she enjoyed over the years. Family members have been deployed and returned. Thousands of times her husband has returned unscathed after nights of patrolling Rialto's streets.
But Tony Jr. will never walk through the door again.
"You never really realize this could take place until Army personnel are standing at your front door," Farrar said.
C.L. LOPEZ , Staff Writer
Article Launched: 05/15/2007 04:12:43 PM PDT
REDLANDS - Rialto police Capt. William "Tony" Farrar Sr. didn't think there was anything significant when he saw two men in Army uniforms on Friday night, but when they approached the door of his Redlands home, he realized something was wrong.
"Once they got to my door in full dress uniform, it was pretty apparent the message was not going to be something I was going to like," he said.
His 20-year-old son William "Tony" Farrar Jr. was killed in Iraq May 11 when an improvised explosive device was detonated near his vehicle in Al Iskandariyah. He was assigned to the 127th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade out of Darmstadt, Germany. The Palm Springs High School graduate had been in the Army since September 2005 and had been in Iraq since November 2006. He lived in Redlands for a year after high school graduation.
"The military was a good choice for him to find out what he wanted to do," said his stepmother Cathy Farrar.
He had talked of following in his father's footsteps with a career in law enforcement. In his last e-mail to his father from Iraq early last week his father said he Farrar Jr. was not sure whether he would return to Redlands orGermany, where he was stationed, when he went on leave in August.
He was in good spirits, he said.
"He was kind of quiet and was the more soft spoken of the three boys," Farrar Sr. said.
His brother Kenny is a Marine and his brother Nic attends Crafton Hills College where he is studying to be a paramedic. He also has 10-year-old twin sisters, Christina and Samantha. Cathy looks back fondly on the time he spent with the girls. Although he was older, he would still play games with them and draw cartoons for them.
The family has received support from the community since they learned of Farrar Jr.'s death.
Farrar Sr. said the family has received flowers, cards and meals. He has heard from colleagues he has not spoken to in two decades and from people he has never met.
The Rialto Police Department, where Farrar Sr. is second in command, has been shocked by the news, said Chief Mark Kling.
"We are shaken by this tragic news of the loss of the captain's son," Kling said. "He is a remarkable man."
Kling said the department plans to support the family in whatever way they can. Funeral services are pending and Kling expects a large Rialto Police Department presence at the funeral. The department is in the planning stages, but will likely call on other cities' police departments to help them so they can attend the funeral.
Farrar Sr. also credited the Army casualty assistance officer for his support in helping the family through the difficult time by helping with funeral arrangements.
The family is awaiting news that his body has returned to the United States. When his body is shipped to Ontario International Airport, the family will be waiting for him.
"It is going to be really tough, but these are the next steps to get through this," Farrar Sr. said.
His funeral service will be at First Missionary Baptist Church of Redlands, where he was a member. Graveside services will be at Riverside National Cemetery.
Farrar Jr. is the third Redlands soldier to be killed in Iraq. Army Specialist Vernon R. Widner, who was the first, died on Nov. 17, 2005, from injuries when his Humvee was rammed and flipped over. In September 2006, Hannah Leah McKinny was killed Sept. 4, 2006, when she was crossing the road and struck by another soldier who was driving a Humvee.
E-mail Staff Writer C.L. Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org
BS Ranch Persective:
Tony, Cathy, Kenny, Nick, Samantha, & Christina,
My thoughts and Prayers are with you during this difficult time, I am so sorry for your loss. I can remember Tony Jr. and him Loving Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when he was only four years old. I am just sorry that I didn't get to see them grow up, throught the years. I know that we started off as friends when Tony started @ Rialto, and we were Exploerer Advisors, I don't know what happend to cause our friendship to fade like it did. I was always sorry that it did. God bless you, I will continue to keep you in my prayers thorough this difficult time.
Buck, and Family