FORT LEE, Va. -- It's not uncommon for an Army recruit to cite the service of a parent, sibling or close relative as having influenced their decision to enlist.
Pfc. Cody Allen is one such Soldier, but his story took a decidedly different turn as he graduated from the Ordnance School 91H Tracked Vehicle Repairer Course here Nov. 7. The person who influenced his military venture was wearing the same uniform while proudly watching from the audience.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeremy Allen is an instructor at the Technical Logistics College, an element of the Army Logistics University. Acknowledging the aforementioned family influence statistics, the proud papa said he enjoyed the "added gift" of seeing his son graduate as a fellow Ordnance Soldier and the honor graduate of his AIT class.
"It's something to be proud of and pretty cool at the same time," said the 22-year officer, who arrived here in August. "It's not often you can say a father and son are on the same installation at the same time, and this may be the only moment we're together in the same place."
The younger Allen is a third-generation Soldier. He had set his mind on joining the military a few years prior to graduating from high school in Jackson, Ohio, where his dad spent a year assigned to the Training with Industry program. After his 18th birthday, Cody said his thoughts first hovered around joining the Marine Corps and later, the Army. He rejected the idea of joining the sea services because he couldn't see himself "sitting on a boat for months." He finally settled upon the service in which he has a deep connection.
"I've been around the Army my whole life," he said. "I'm adapted to it. I really couldn't see myself in another branch."
The elder Allen said he saw early on that his son was largely influenced by the images and activities associated with the uniform he wore.
"He always seemed to be interested in what I was doing," said the native Tennessean, noting he refrained from pushing his offspring into making career decisions. "Then, in his freshmen through junior year, he was in the Junior ROTC program at Fountain Fort Carson High School [in Colorado Springs, Colorado]. I would watch him during events and saw he had the desire -- kind of like I did in watching my father. That's what I wanted to do (at his age) or at least try it; you know, give it a shot and see what happens."
Joining the military is one thing, but choosing which job to pursue is another matter. There are questions of interest, qualifications and availability. Pfc. Allen expressed curiosity in being a pilot, avionics technician and infantryman. Of the latter, his father advised him to focus on jobs with marketable skills in case he chose to one day walk away from the ranks. Being a mechanic seemed to check all the boxes.
"'You're going to have your work cut out for you because there is a lot of it,'" said the chief to his son at the time he made his decision, speaking from the experience of toiling long hours in motor pools all over the Army.
Hands-on, challenging work, however, appealed to Cody's sense of adventure.
"It seemed like it was tough, and you get your hands dirty," he said. "What led me to that (becoming a mechanic) is I helped my uncle and dad install intakes on trucks, etc. I thought it was fun."
The Allens' coincided time here has been an opportunity to discover the newest aspects of their relationship. During the 10-week course, the two spent time together and texted each other every night. Pfc. Allen said their conversations have been enlightening.
"Now, I get to know what he goes through at work," he said, indicating he has more of an appreciation for wearing the uniform. "I was told I'll have long nights; he's had long nights, CQ-duty, preparing for deployments, etc. … he told me all about that."
CW3 Allen said having another Soldier in the family inspires a sense of pride and strengthens their bond.
"I'm just glad I can be an example he can follow," he said. "It's been a great experience for me thus far, and he's going to continue to do great things. We actually have a lot to talk about now. He can always reach back to me and say, 'Hey, they're about to do this … does this make sense?' It's also being able to help him. You know, you help Soldiers your whole career."
Pfc. Allen has orders for Fort Carson following his graduation. "I was really hoping I got it and I did. I love that place," he said. His father was stationed there prior to Cody's senior year in high school.
Striking a further chord of legacy is Pfc. Allen's future career plans. "If I can, I want to try to go to warrant officer school like my dad did," he proudly stated. "I'm going to do the things I need to do to make this a really good career."
Or, looking at it through the eyes of his battle buddy dad, he's going to "give it a shot and see what happens."