Father, son deploy to Afghanistan together

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Felicia Juenke
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Missing family members is a common feeling many Airmen have while deployed, but for two Airmen serving with the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here, that feeling is a little less prominent. This father and son duo deployed to war together to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lt. Col. Bartley O'Toole, the 774th EAS director of operations and his son, Senior Airman Bartley O'Toole who is an aircrew flight equipment journeyman, are both deployed here for several months from the 152nd Airlift Wing, Nevada Air National Guard. 

A third O'Toole, Cadet Brogan O'Toole, is a senior at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Back home as the 192nd Airlift Squadron commander, Colonel O'Toole felt it was his duty to volunteer for the deployment with his squadron.

"To watch the squadron deploy without me prior to becoming squadron commander was tough," Colonel O'Toole said. "Now that I am the squadron commander, I could never fathom the thought of the squadron deploying without me."

Airman O'Toole also volunteered to deploy.

"The squadron asked for volunteers, so I took the opportunity," he said.

Colonel O'Toole has had nine previous deployments in 25 years, but this is his first deployment for Airman O'Toole.

The two could have been separated and sent at different times, but it was the luck of the draw that they were deployed on the same rotation to the same destination. They said they enjoy being deployed together, and in some ways it's the same old routine: the family at home worries about those far away.

"It's just like being at home station, except my dad always tells me to call my mom," Airman O'Toole said.

"I understand he's an Airman (and an adult), but every time I talk to my wife she asks about him, so there's a parental feeling there too," Colonel O'Toole said.

"I am glad my father is there to look after my older brother on his first deployment," Cadet O'Toole said.

Not only did Airman O'Toole make his father proud by joining the Air Force, but also he is also attending the same university his father graduated from. Colonel O'Toole graduated from the University of Nevada with an agricultural science degree in 1987. When he's not fulfilling his duty with the Air Force, Airman O'Toole also attends the University of Nevada, Reno. Airman O'Toole is only 30 credits short of finishing his degree in criminal justice. Upon graduation, Airman O'Toole said he will work toward becoming an officer in the Air National Guard and hopes to be a pilot or maybe a navigator just like his dad.

Cadet O'Toole also has aspirations of becoming a flyer, seemingly a family tradition. He is slated to enter pilot training after graduation from the Academy.

"I am very proud of my family and the fact that all three of us are in the military," Cadet O'Toole said. "I do worry about my father and brother quite a bit when they are deployed, but I am still very proud of both of them."