By Sgt. Samantha Beuterbaugh 366th MPAD, USD-CApril 14, 2010
BAGHDAD - Years after Sgt. 1st Class Shaheed Shakir joined the military, his oldest daughter Siobhan followed in his footsteps.
Those footsteps led Sgt. Siobhan Eastman to Camp Liberty April 8, where she linked up with Shakir, a liaison officer for 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
Eastman, the supply sergeant for Company B, 37th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, 18th Airborne Division in Joint Air Base Balad, received a supply mission to Camp Liberty. While there, she made good on a tradition the two of them have maintained for years: father-daughter date night.
"We went to the PX, got manicures, I got a facial, and then we went by the [dining facility] for some delicious lasagna," said Eastman.
This was a typical date night - minus the PX - that started when Eastman was an early teen. They usually kick back, watch movies and just laugh together.
"We literally just make up stuff to laugh about like two kids," said Shakir. "We're clowns together."
The Gainesville, Fla., natives have been fortunate this deployment; they've had several opportunities to visit one another.
"Ever since she was 5 years old, we could never be away from each other for too long," said Shakir.
Throughout their military careers, they've always managed to be stationed close together and had commands that supported them.
"If we go longer than two days [without phoning each other], then somebody's in trouble," said Eastman.
The longest stretch of time they have ever gone without seeing each other was when Eastman attended basic and advanced training for the military, which lasted about six months.
"She can't live without me!" Shakir said smiling.
Eastman once called Shakir to inform him that her duty station was changing. Slightly disheartened at the mere thought of it, he found the courage to ask where. She laughed when she told him it was just across the street from his location at Fort Bragg.
They phone often just to talk, but she also seeks his advice in leading Soldiers.
"My first answer is always as a noncommissioned officer," said Shakir.
She sees how hard he works and says that is her motivation to go to the next level, to want to do better.
Shakir smiles at the thought of his daughter's successes in the military and, as a jumpmaster and father, is proud to admit his daughter followed his footsteps even into airborne school.
"I was deployed when she went to jump school. ... I remember that whole day, her first jump. She kept calling and calling," said Shakir. "I was ready to talk to her ... first, to make sure she was okay and next, to make sure she didn't punk out!"
Eastman admits she was nervous but that it turned out to be a great experience.
Although Shakir is proud of Eastman's service in the Army, Eastman said he didn't always feel that way.
"He almost didn't even let me join [the Army]," said Eastman.
Shakir tried to contact his daughter when she was with the recruiter to tell her not to join but the phone call wouldn't go through, so he figured it was meant to be.
Shakir is proud of his daughter despite his initial feelings of discomfort about permitting her to join the Army, saying he is happy she did something for herself. With her serving in Iraq, he has grown closer to her, and a bit more protective. Shakir has become acquainted with several of the Soldiers in Eastman's company.
"Daddy's eyes are everywhere," jokes Shakir.
Their relationship is as close as a father and daughter can be, said Shakir. As a child, he didn't receive a lot of love and decided at a young age he wanted a child so he would have someone who would always love him.
She does: "I will always be my daddy's baby."