By Skip Vaughn, USAG RedstoneApril 8, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--The past seven years have been unusual for the Jonathan Williams family.
This is the longest they've lived in the same place without moving. During his more than 20 years in the Army, they would move every two or three years.
He retired in 2006 as a sergeant first class - after 20 years, four months and 17 days (but who was counting'). That's why the family has taken root in Harvest. But now he and his wife of nearly 23 years, Harriet, have got their passports ready just in case.
Any of their three children - all of whom have followed Jonathan's footsteps into the Army - might go overseas, so they'll want to visit them.
"I'm actually honored that they would choose to serve the country," said Jonathan, an information technology specialist for the Network Enterprise Center.
There will be plenty of green uniforms at this family's gatherings. The oldest sibling and lone daughter, Camil, 23, is a Reserve specialist in the 926th Engineering Battalion (Forward Support) in Birmingham. A food services specialist, she is also attending both the Aveda Institute for cosmetology and the University of Alabama-Birmingham for accounting. She has been a reservist and college student since 2008.
Jonathan Jr., 20, is a specialist with the 92nd Chemical Company at Fort Stewart, Ga. A unit supply specialist, he joined in April 2008. He entered the Reserves between his junior and senior year in high school; so when he was a senior, he had already completed basic training.
Joshua, 17, a senior at Sparkman High, enlisted Dec. 23, 2010. He will leave May 31 for basic training at Fort Benning, Ga. After about 10 weeks of basic training, he'll go to Fort Gordon, Ga., for advanced individual training in computer/detection systems repair. Ironically, his father was trained at Fort Gordon as an electronics maintenance chief.
"I wanted to have job security," Joshua said of his main reason for joining the Army. "I know how the economy's going. I lived a pretty good lifestyle. I saw my father's example.
"Another (reason) is to serve my country and the American way of life. To get my education while I'm in. And it's a family tradition."
Joshua was born in Heidelberg, Germany, and grew up around the world - including stops in Augusta, Ga. (Fort Gordon); Baumholder, Germany; Verona, Italy; and finally Huntsville since 2004.
"I know my lifestyle's different from other people," he said. "I'm more diverse. I have diverse friends. And I like to see the big picture, I'm not simple-minded."
The military lifestyle has its ups and downs, he said. The downside was not having the same friends for extended periods because of all the moving.
"You don't know what to call home. But actually you do know what to call home. Home is where the family is," Joshua said. "It brings families together. I know (while) traveling around, my family was all I had."
Another upside to the military lifestyle is "being able to see different parts of the world," he said.
His father, 44, a native of Compton, Calif., retired from the military as an equal opportunity adviser for the 59th Ordnance Brigade. His more than 20 years as a Soldier included about 11 years overseas in Germany and Italy.
"Had great times," Jonathan said. "I left the military I thought in good standing. I think that's the reason my children wanted to join. I enjoyed my career. I enjoyed serving in the United States Army."
And now his three children are having that opportunity themselves.
"What do you think'" Jonathan asked his youngest son. "You think you're ready'"
To that, Joshua replied, "I was born ready."