BAGHDAD Aca,!" For fathers in the 225th Engineer Brigade deployed to Iraq, FatherAca,!a,,cs Day was spent missing their children at home.

Except for not one, but two father-son duos deployed together.

Lt. Col. Jerry Scott Crooks, deputy commander for brigade and his son, Pfc. Taylor Crooks, 18, have embarked on a journey most will only read about.

Less than a year ago, Taylor was involved in a serious car accident. After battling back from a head injury and broken jaw, he joined the Louisiana National Guard and deployed with his father to Iraq in January. Now, the two spend time, three times a week, running together to improve TaylorAca,!a,,cs run time. Afterward, theyAca,!a,,cll BBQ steaks and pick on each other in good fun. It is a simple life, but one that has brought a closeness that neither expected as they experience deployment together as men, not just father - son.

Aca,!A"As a father, keeping in mind he just turned 18, itAca,!a,,cs just amazing in the last 12 months seeing him develop and mature into a young man,Aca,!A? Jerry said. Aca,!A"In a lot of ways our relationship is better than it was a year and a half ago. WeAca,!a,,cve had chances to talk, to spend some time together that has been good for both of us.Aca,!A?

TaylorAca,!a,,cs appreciation for having his father around has grown over the past few months.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs been awesome [deploying together],Aca,!A? Taylor said. Aca,!A"I think it would have been a lot different if we didnAca,!a,,ct deploy together. We still have the father-son relationship, but now we have the boss - IAca,!a,,cm one of his trooperAca,!a,,cs relationships.Aca,!A?

Sgt. 1st Class Rodney Nordby of Pineville, La., never imagined his son would follow in his footsteps and join the Louisiana National Guard. At the age of 18, Curtis surprised everyone in his family when he said he was enlisting.

Curtis joined the headquarters company of the brigade Rodney was in. Less than three years later, it was Curtis that got the notice to deploy and Rodney who immediately volunteered to go with him.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs been enjoyable to watch him mature and has brought us much closer because we are sharing something we never expected to share,Aca,!A? Rodney said.

Rodney said he has had many FatherAca,!a,,cs Days with his three children, but this one was definitely different.

Aca,!A"FatherAca,!a,,cs Day was pretty special,Aca,!A? Rodney reflected. Aca,!A"It was pretty cool. He came by last night and we spent time together and had a good talk.Aca,!A?

One night a week, the two meet up on the softball field. It is there everyone sees their magic. Curtis can be seen on 3rd base, his dad as pitcher. Quietly the father gives his son advice. And his son listens.

Aca,!A"Ever since t-ball, heAca,!a,,cs been my coach,Aca,!A? said Curtis. Aca,!A"HeAca,!a,,cs always trying to help and knows what IAca,!a,,cm doing wrong.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"Being together on this deployment has made everything easier, I can talk to him about things,Aca,!A? he continued. Aca,!A"We are a lot closer now because it is just me and him.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16