AF colonel promotes Army son in Afghanistan
December 16, 2010
- Rare meeting allows dad to promote son at Camp Clark, Afghanistan
- Family has long tradition of serving in military
CAMP EGGERS, KABUL, Afghanistan --The family that serves together stays together. Well, sort of.
For example, at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Afghan National Police Training Sustainment Site at Camp Clark in Parsa, an Air Force colonel promoted his Army son to first lieutenant.
"My father and I deployed on the same weekend in July of 2010," said newly promoted 1st Lt. Jonathan Wood of the Regional Support Command-East. "With his current position, he travels throughout the area of operations enabling him to see first-hand the products that he helps to develop. He was visiting a nearby FOB (Forward Operating Base) right before he made it to Camp Clark."
Call it destiny or luck, but Jonathan said he views this meeting as a one-time opportunity during their deployments.
"This was the first time seeing my dad in theater," he said. "It was perfect timing, and I don't think we will get this opportunity much more, if at all."
"If my duties require me to be in his area again, I may have another chance to visit his site but that's a slim possibility," agreed Col. Paul Wood, the father.
The senior Wood is with AFCENT A-4, serving as the director of Logistics, at al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
Earlier on this festive day, Jonathan took his dad on a tour of the area. They then celebrated Thanksgiving together. Afterward, they assisted a platoon sergeant serve Thanksgiving lunch to the camp by carving prime rib.
Later, the promotion ceremony was held in front of an estimated 25 well-wishers consisting of Afghan students and staff, Jordanians, and Army personnel at the Parsa Training Sustainment Site headquarters.
Afterward, a dinner was held consisting of lamb, chicken and rice.
Asked what it was like to be promoted by his father in Afghanistan, the 24-year-old Soldier said this: "This is a unique story and experience that is very special to me. My dad has been my biggest mentor throughout my life; he commissioned me a second lieutenant at West Point, New York in 2009, and was able to promote me to first lieutenant in Afghanistan in 2010. Both times I recited the oath of an officer to him -- it was more than an oath of service to the country, but to my father and family as well."
Jonathan's home unit - 2nd Battalion, 44th "Strike Fear" Air Defense Artillery Regiment - is deployed from Fort Campbell, Ky., and contributing to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan with the RSC-East.
The unit's mission is to serve as mentor/adviser teams at institutions across Afghanistan in order to develop quality, capable, and self-sufficient Afghan Security Forces. Jonathan serves as the Afghan National Police Mentor/Adviser Team officer-in-charge at Training Sustainment Site, Parsa.
But what about Mom and Paul's wife -- what does she think of having her son and husband serving simultaneously in Afghanistan'
"I know my mother is proud...," Jonathan said. "The only thing I think that could be harder than being deployed is being the mother or wife of a serviceman serving across the world."
"She is very proud of all our service," said Paul. "Understandably she doesn't watch the news a lot."
The family is residing at Langley Air Force Base, Va., where Paul was stationed prior to deploying. Paul said he considers Rome, N.Y., his hometown, but added "...home is where the Air Force sends you."
Here's another surprise -- the Wood family also has another family member serving in the Army.
Jonathan has a brother, Daniel, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. He is a combat medic of three years and recently redeployed from Mosul, Iraq, where he gave care to U.S. and Iraqi military and civilians.
His father also swore Daniel in as part of his first enlistment.
And, Jonathan's brother-in-law works as a civilian at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
"I am extremely proud to be a part of this military family," Jonathan said. "My dad has served in countless tours around the world throughout my childhood and now, almost 30 years of service later, he is still going strong and living his oath every day."
Like a good leader, Jonathan is not bent on arranging a vacation or "leave" when his father does. Rather, he will put his Soldiers' needs before his own.
"I planned my leave around my Soldiers' dates hoping they can be home with their families when they want. If our dates coincide, it will be by chance more than planning," he said.
But then again you just never know with this family.
As is evident, this is a family that has sacrificed much in service to the nation. And, will continue to do so in the year ahead.
Paul's would-be father-in-law enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1938. He served in the Pacific theater throughout World War II. He spent a great deal of time in China and was even decorated by Chiang Kai-Shek - the Chinese leader who set up a new government in 1949 at the nearby island of Taiwan after years of war with communist forces.
His father-in-law retired from the U.S. Air Force in the early 1960s, Paul said.
Additionally, Paul's father enlisted in the Army in 1943, serving in the European theater during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart, along with other campaign ribbons, he said.
"As a son and a brother, I could not be prouder to be a part of this family. My dad has a long and impressive career in the Air Force and my brother and I are just beginning ours," Jonathan said. "I am comfortable saying that for all of us, our family is our biggest source our support and we are all proud to be a part of a much bigger military family serving around the world."
Not surprisingly, his father also shares this pride and looks forward to the future.
"I am proud of his service and what he is doing to increase stability in Afghanistan. He has a good rapport with his team, his trainees, and the embedded advisers," Paul said. "Understandably I worry about his safety and the safety of all our men and women in the AOR (Area of Operations). They are in my and my wife's thoughts and prayers daily and we all look forward to the day we bring everyone home safely."