• Capt. Allen Buckhalt kicks a soccer ball around with his daughter, Ava, 4, during his son, Joel‚ during soccer practice at Tokay Park in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3. The Buckhalts are one of three 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade families represented in the five finalists for this year's Fort Bragg Family of the Year. Allen, originally from Miami, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot, serves as the commander for Company B, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd CAB, and Bonnie as the company Family Readiness Group leader.

    Pegasus families live up to Army Family icon

    Capt. Allen Buckhalt kicks a soccer ball around with his daughter, Ava, 4, during his son, Joel‚ during soccer practice at Tokay Park in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3. The Buckhalts are one of three 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade families represented...

  • Joel Buckhalt kicks the ball during soccer practice at Tokay Park in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3. Joel, his parents, Maj. (Ret.) Bonnie Buckhalt and Capt. Allen Buckhalt, and his sister, Ava, are finalists for this year's Fort Bragg Family of the Year. Joel is a member of the National Honor Society and plays Varsity Soccer at Jack Britton High School. Allen, a UH-60 pilot who commands Company B, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, spent the better part of 2012 deployed with the 82nd CAB.

    Pegasus families live up to Army Family icon

    Joel Buckhalt kicks the ball during soccer practice at Tokay Park in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3. Joel, his parents, Maj. (Ret.) Bonnie Buckhalt and Capt. Allen Buckhalt, and his sister, Ava, are finalists for this year's Fort Bragg Family of the Year...

  • Capt. Allen Buckhalt and his wife Maj. (Ret.) Bonnie Buckhalt engage their daughter, Ava, 4, with a game of 1, 2, 3 during their son, Joel's, soccer practice at Tokay Park in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3. The Buckhalts are one of three 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade families represented in the five finalists for this year's Fort Bragg Family of the Year. Allen, of Miami, is a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot who serves as the commander for Company B, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd CAB, and Bonnie as the company Family Readiness Group leader. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. April Campbell, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

    Pegasus families live up to Army Family icon

    Capt. Allen Buckhalt and his wife Maj. (Ret.) Bonnie Buckhalt engage their daughter, Ava, 4, with a game of 1, 2, 3 during their son, Joel's, soccer practice at Tokay Park in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3. The Buckhalts are one of three 82nd Combat...

  • Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Miller, of Allentown, Pa., and his son Julian prepare sausage on the grill after work as part of the evening meal in their home at Fort Bragg's satellite neighborhood, Linden Oaks, in Cameron, N.C., Dec 3.  Eric serves as the chaplain for the 122nd Aviation Sustainment Brigade, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.  The Miller family is one of three 82nd CAB families who are finalists for the 2012 Fort Bragg Family of the Year.

    Pegasus families live up to Army Family icon

    Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Miller, of Allentown, Pa., and his son Julian prepare sausage on the grill after work as part of the evening meal in their home at Fort Bragg's satellite neighborhood, Linden Oaks, in Cameron, N.C., Dec 3. Eric serves as the...

  • Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Miller, his wife, Stephanie, and their four children, Kathryn, Julian, Elizabeth and Abigail, pray over their evening meal in their home at Fort Bragg's satellite neighborhood, Linden Oakes, in Cameron, N.C., Dec 3.  Eric serves as the chaplain for the 122nd Aviation Sustainment Brigade, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.  The Miller family, originally from Allentown, Pa., is one of three 82nd CAB families who are finalists for the Fort Bragg Family of the Year for 2012.

    Pegasus families live up to Army Family icon

    Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Miller, his wife, Stephanie, and their four children, Kathryn, Julian, Elizabeth and Abigail, pray over their evening meal in their home at Fort Bragg's satellite neighborhood, Linden Oakes, in Cameron, N.C., Dec 3. Eric serves...

  • Sierra, 8, reads to her father, Chaplain (Maj.) Stanton Trotter, of La Palma, Calif., at their home in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3.  The Trotters are one of three 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade families represented in the five finalists for this year's Fort Bragg Family of the Year. Stanton serves as the brigade chaplain for the 82nd CAB. Stanton's wife Lauri of Woodbridge, Va., served as the facilitator and instructor for the 82nd CAB's spouse retreats while her husband was deployed.

    Pegasus families live up to Army Family icon

    Sierra, 8, reads to her father, Chaplain (Maj.) Stanton Trotter, of La Palma, Calif., at their home in Fayetteville, N.C., Dec. 3. The Trotters are one of three 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade families represented in the five finalists for this year's...

  • XVIII Airborne Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn and his wife, Debbie, present a plaque to the Buckhalt family, of 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, for their nomination for the 2012 Fort Bragg Family of the Year, Dec. 6. Capt. Allen Buckhalt, his wife, Maj. (Ret.) Bonnie Buckhalt, and their children, Joel, 18, and Ava, 4, were among three 82nd CAB families who were finalists for the family of the year. Allen, of Miami, is a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot who serves as the commander for Company B, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd CAB, and Bonnie as the company Family Readiness Group leader. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. April Campbell, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)

    Pegasus families live up to Army Family icon

    XVIII Airborne Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn and his wife, Debbie, present a plaque to the Buckhalt family, of 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, for their nomination for the 2012 Fort Bragg Family of the Year, Dec...

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Apart, the two words 'army' and 'family' generate strikingly different images. One implies regimented discipline and order; the other brings to mind love and compassion. For U.S. Army soldiers and their loved ones, however, the two words can hardly be separated, as each impacts the other in ways unheard of in most other professions.

These Army families seem to thrive in the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade as the Pegasus brigade is represented by three of the five families who are finalists for the 2012 Fort Bragg Family of the Year.

The Trotter, Miller and Buckhalt Families were recognized by XVIII Airborne Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn and his wife, Debbie, during the Fort Bragg Family of the Year award ceremony at Fort Bragg, Nov. 6.

"The nominations are a testament to how much the 82nd CAB families were invested during our most recent deployment. Deployments are the times when people can shine and they're really needed," said 82nd CAB Chaplain (Maj.) Stanton Trotter.

Stanton, his wife Lauri and their two daughters, Sierra, 8, and Hannah, 6, make up one of the 82nd CAB finalist families. Along with the husbands from the other two families, Stanton spent the better half of 2012 deployed to Afghanistan.

During his time overseas, Stanton, of La Palma, Calif., always found time to call home via Skype to talk with Lauri and the girls. He credits this commitment to allot time for each other to their family's success.

"My hope is that others see that we focus on our family first," Stanton said. "That is what charges the battery of our family."

Though there were times when Sierra and Hannah missed their father, Lauri, of Woodbridge, Va., helped the girls to understand the family commitment.

"I think the girls are learning that what we have in the military is a choice, and with that choice there are some sacrifices that come, but we as a family make that choice." Lauri said. "When we can remember it really was our choice, it helps to get through some of those less pleasant times, the late hours, deployments and whatever else."

The Millers, with the 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, were also finalists for the family of the year. Chaplain (Capt.) Eric Miller and his wife Stephanie, of Allentown, Pa., have four children: Kathryn, 15, Julian, 13, Elizabeth, 10, and Abigail, 8. Miller is the chaplain for the 122nd ASB, and has been in the Army for two and a half years.

Although this is his first duty station since joining the Army, Miller and his wife are no strangers to military life. Miller is a former Marine who served from 1992 to 1996. Serving in her own right, Stephanie has volunteered as a Family Readiness Group Advisor with the 122nd ASB for the past two years.

"Being relatively new to the Army, the Millers bring fresh energy to the 82nd CAB families," Lauri said.

Eric and his wife consider themselves down-to-earth people with a normal family and life. They were both very surprised and humbled when they received news they were nominated for the family of the year.

"We were shocked and consider it a huge honor. We are 'Team Miller' and we just want to help where we can," said Stephanie. "I believe every family is the family of the year. If you have to walk in the shoes of a military soldier, spouse or child, you understand how much sacrifice there is. Parents have to work hard to keep the family together and on track, and kids have to endure the loss of their parent for long periods of time. I believe military families are a special type of family and they all deserve to be recognized."

As an Army Chaplain, Eric can share his understanding of family with many Soldiers.

"The key is to have a solid base at home that will help keep things going even when you can't be there," Eric said. "I am blessed to have Stephanie. She is a strong woman. She has kept things together and running as normal as possible even when I can't be here. My children are strong and understand what it takes for me to do my job. I could not do what I do without their support and understanding."

With their years of military service on both sides of the table, the Buckhalts both know what it is like to support and understand a military spouse.

Capt. Allen Buckhalt is a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot who serves as the commander for Company B, 2nd Aviation Assault Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. His wife, Maj. (Ret.) Bonnie Buckhalt, leads the company Family Readiness Group. The Buckhalt's son, Joel, 18, is a member of the National Honor Society and the Varsity Soccer Team at Jack Britton High School. Their daughter, Ava, 4, played a big role helping Bonnie as she packed treats and care packages to send 82nd CAB Troopers during their deployment.

Allen, originally from Miami, believes the values that have strengthened his family have helped him in his role as a commander.

"What I've learned from my family I've applied to my military family," Allen said. "Respect, love and taking care of one another are principles that are important to any successful family and team."
Bonnie, a retired officer who grew up in a military family in Killeen, Texas, has experienced all sides of Army life.

"I have never had a phase of my life where the military hasn't been a part of it. This whole process has made me reflect on my experience in the military and as a family member. During this time where the Army has deployed pretty often, I have been able to see how the family members must remain close to one another and support other families in the unit."

As the Family Readiness Group leader for her husband's company, Bonnie gets to know many of her unit's family members first hand. This involvement guides Bonnie to understand her own family's nomination as a depiction of her greater community.

"It was humbling to be a finalist for the Fort Bragg Family of the Year," Bonnie said. "We know so many tremendous families and we are honored to represent them."

Perhaps it is this pervasive modesty, expressed by the Trotters, Millers and Buckhalts, that makes the Army Family an icon so universally understood - a model with which soldiers and their loved ones so easily identify themselves on a daily basis.

This family identity will serve the 82nd CAB well as the brigade transforms to support the U.S. global response force, reshaping a conventional unit to a rapidly-deployable aviation asset, capable of responding to a wide variety of humanitarian and combat missions around the world with little notice.

Page last updated Mon December 10th, 2012 at 00:00