Duty to country unite father, son in Afghanistan
February 10, 2011
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - An unknown author once wrote, "Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice."
In a combat aviation brigade, deployments are the norm, and Soldiers are asked to leave friends, loved ones and family on a regular basis.
Married Soldiers have a difficult time leaving behind spouses and children while they head off to war, but it's just as difficult for single Soldiers to leave their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Sometimes though, Soldiers and their loved ones are fighting on the same battleground.
Pfc. Allan Berry II, a petroleum specialist with A Company, Task Force Mountain Eagle, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, has the pleasure of seeing his father on a nearly weekly basis.
Berry's father, Allan Berry Sr., of Terre Haute, Ind., flies a Puma S330J helicopter for a major aviation corporation, shuttling Army and Department of the Army civilians around Regional Command-East. He frequently brings care packages and supplies put together by his son and his fellow Soldiers at Bagram Airfield, to other Soldiers in Berry's platoon working out of Forward Operating Base Ghazni.
Before flying for his present employer, Berry spent eight years fixing helicopters in the Marine Corps and then joined the Army, where he became a chief warrant officer and flew AH-64 Apaches. After returning from Operation Desert Storm, Berry got out of the service but continued to fly.
Following his father's example, the younger Berry enlisted in the Army in January 2008 and asked to be an aircraft re-fueler.
"My dad was always flying in helicopters and flew during the Gulf War," the younger Berry said. "It made me proud to see what he did for our country, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps."
When the elder Berry found out his son was deploying to Bagram Airfield, or BAF, he was excited at the prospect of getting to see him, but as any father would, he worried about the dangers involved with deploying to a combat zone.
"I didn't get to see him in (Contingency Operating Base) Speicher when I was down in Baghdad on his last deployment," the elder Berry said. "So when Allan told me he would be in Bagram, I was thrilled because my flights bring me into BAF on a regular basis."
"At the same time, though, it makes you worry," he explained. "I've been flying in Afghanistan for almost a year now, so I know a lot of the dangers here. It scares me sometimes to think of him in harm's way. But getting to see him helps reassure me that he's doing well."
To be working in the same area as his son gives the elder Berry a unique perspective.
"I love the fact that I get to directly support the Soldiers over here," he said. "Knowing my son could be one of the young kids I'm flying around the battlefield makes this job enjoyable and means that much more to me. I always try to help the Soldiers out in any way I can and treat them like it's my son that I'm flying around."
The younger Berry's platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class David Essinger, sees benefits of having his Soldier's father in the area.
"I think it's great that Pfc. Berry gets to see his father while we're deployed," Essinger said. "I think Jim Valvano said it best when he claimed, 'My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another: he believed in me.'
"Whether (Berry has) had a good day or a bad day, (his) dad always believes in him and always supports him. Not only is it satisfying to see a father and son reunited, but it's comforting to know that in a pinch, we have another asset to turn to in order to keep the mission happening."
"Getting to see my dad and visit with him when he flies into Bagram really helps keep my morale high," he said. "Anytime I miss home or want to talk to my family, my dad's only a phone call away."