Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for June 27, 2011 - Lt. Col. Keith W. Hunt and Spc. Andrew Hunt

Lieutenant Colonel Keith W. Hunt

Current Unit: 14th Human Resources Sustainment Center
Current Position: Theater Casualty Operations Chief
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Hometown: Westminster, S.C.
Years of Service: 23.5

Specialist Andrew Hunt

Current Unit: 228th Theater Signal Company
Current Position: Human Resources Specialist
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Hometown: Prince George, Va.
Years of Service: 4

There are many Soldiers who choose to follow in the military tradition of their ancestors, their legacies a source of deep pride and inspiration. But it isn’t everyday when family members have an opportunity to serve together. Lt. Col. Keith W. Hunt and his son Spc. Andrew Hunt are currently deployed to the same location—Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

“I am excited to be stationed with him,” says the son. “It’s hard to get two members of our family on the same continent at the same time, let alone get deployed to the same country and camp.”

His father agrees. “With our previous deployments’ timeline conflicts, this year is the first opportunity we’ve had to spend time together in almost four years.”

Both of Lt. Col. Hunt’s boys are active-duty military service members. His other son, Cpl. Kenneth E. Hunt serves in the United States Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, N.C. It means a lot to Lt. Col. Hunt that they followed in his bootsteps.

“My father and other family members had been WWII veterans,” said Lt. Col. Hunt. “As both of my sons became high school seniors, they each made decisions to enlist for military service. My wife and I have supported both from the outset, and couldn’t be more proud,” he said.

Spc. Hunt’s own decision to join the Army was due to a combination of factors, not the least of which was family pride.

“I feel honored to be a part of such a distinct military tradition,” he said. “I grew up with a sense of duty instilled in me to want to give back to the country that had already given me so much.”

Lt. Col. Hunt, who received the Bronze Star Medal for his previous service in Kuwait, is currently serving as the Theater Casualty Operations Chief for the 14th Human Resources Sustainment Center’s Casualty Operations Center. The center is responsible for tracking and reporting all military, and Department of Defense civilian and contractor casualties that occur in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The Casualty Assistance Center operates 24 hours every day, and is staffed by an outstanding cadre of professionals who are trained to demand exponential detail and accuracy without fail,” Lt. Col. Hunt explains. “Everything we do is singularly focused on taking care of the Soldier and his or her family.”

A small step in the overall process, the role of the center is vital. Its reports directly affect the next of kin notification as well as the delivery of benefits to the deceased’s family.

“The timeliness and accuracy of our reports trigger a series of actions at the Department of the Army level, including the difficult and somber task of notification,” he said. “This is followed closely by a thorough process of assistance, which includes everything from travel and burial arrangements to disbursement of entitlements and benefits.”

Meanwhile, Spc. Hunt is with the 228th Theater Signal Company, where he serves as a human resources specialist. He is charged with maintaining individual personnel records for the members of his unit, and keeping track of his Soldiers’ whereabouts. Additionally, he assists his comrades in filling out paperwork necessary to achieve personal goals and ensure their individual needs are met.

“Everything that a Soldier does in the Army requires some sort of paperwork for everything from taking a four-day pass, attending a school, to getting promoted,” he explains. “Every action no matter how small affects Soldiers in a very big way. For example, if I don’t process an action such as a rest and recuperation (R&R) leave form properly or in a timely manner, that Soldier won’t be able to go on R&R.”

The younger Hunt also helps fellow Soldiers remain on track in their individual career progression. He has been pleasantly surprised at the variety of development opportunities his command provides.

“Since I oversee most school enrollments and similar personnel actions, I get a firsthand look at just how many this company and this battalion processes,” he said. “The command really supports Soldier personal and professional development.”

While the Hunts have two very different missions, serving together has made the deployment much easier on them.

“Just having a familiar face and someone who knows more about me than the typical ‘gathered’ information is really nice,” said SPC. Hunt. “Having him here, I know sets our family at ease.”

The younger Hunt and his father try to see each other quite frequently at Camp Arifjan. The father son duo enjoys playing racquetball and participating in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation led runs and walks together. From time to time they catch a movie and eat together when they can.

“I enjoy the company of my son, and I have enjoyed watching him grow personally and professionally. Serving together gives each of us an outlet, and makes me proud,” says Lt. Col. Hunt. “But, I do feel a hint of guilt when I am able to share time with my son while so many others here cannot.”

Both Hunts will return to the states next spring. Lt. Col. Hunt looks forward to reuniting with his wife Anita, to whom he has been married for 27 years. The younger Hunt has plans to return to Fort Carson, Colo.

“There my first order of business is to spend some much anticipated leave with my wife and my dog,” Spc. Hunt explains.

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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