Army father, son protect peninsula from ground, air
February 3, 2011
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea - Since the start of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, many stories have been written about two uniformed Family members meeting up in a combat zone. Usually the parent stops by the base where their child is stationed to greet them, say hello and then take the next helicopter out of the area.
In the 2nd Infantry Division, one Family actually protects the peninsula from the ground to the air.
Pfc. Shawn Elliot, a tanker from C Company, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, holds things down on the Korean soil in his M-1 Abrams tank, while his father, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steve Elliot, an AH-64 Apache pilot and safety officer from B Company, 4th (Attack) Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, holds court in the air.
Perhaps even more unusual is the father-and-son combo's recent participation in a division-level combined live-fire gunnery exercise at the Multi-Purpose Range Complex outside of Pocheon, South Korea. During the combined exercise held this past October, Shawn interacted with his father by conducting calls for fire and then watched as his dad blasted away at the fictitious enemy strongholds.
"From a professional's perspective, I was pretty excited to be able to conduct a realistic exercise with the tankers," said Steve. "But on a personal note and as a father, it was a pretty proud moment hearing my son's voice call in the strike."
For Shawn, the exercise was a new experience.
"I had a blast during the exercise, but it took a while for it to actually sink in that I was directing the helicopter's movement from the ground," he said.
Although Shawn has enjoyed being a tanker, something he always wanted to be while growing up, he now wants to switch over to aviation.
"I'm going to drop my flight packet after I get back from my deployment," he said.
Shawn returns to the states in March to Fort Bliss, Texas and will deploy to Afghanistan shortly after. He said he hopes to do well enough in flight school to be selected to fly Apaches like his father.
"I wish I could deploy with him," said Steve, "but I don't think they will let me. Either way I think he will be ready because the training they conduct here in Korea builds a strong foundation for your next duty station."
Despite their pending separation, Steve is satisfied with the time they have been able to spend together while stationed in the Korea.
"We came over here originally in December 2008 and he left for basic training and (advanced individual training)," said Steve. "I was really excited when I found out he was coming back here for his first duty station."
"Since he came back, we have been able to spend just about every holiday and four-day weekend together as a Family," Steve added. "For him to be stationed on Camp Casey has almost been like he is away at college. He is far enough away to be on his own, but he is still close enough so that we can help him with anything he needs."
Whether in a war zone or back on the home front, Steve concluded, "The way I look at it, I've got his back from the air to the ground and he has my back from the ground to the air."