Father, son spend Father’s Day in deployed location

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Racheal E. Watson
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Deployed accommodations have changed drastically in the last 30 years. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, handwritten letters and rooms filled with pay phones were the only ways to communicate with loved ones from home.

“When I went to Desert Storm the first time, we got our phone call home and we were in country (for) almost a week,” said Tech. Sgt. Michial Smith, a 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment technician. “It was a three-minute morale call and you waited in line for it. I actually got a letter home before that call.”

Spending time away from loved ones during various holidays throughout the year can take a toll on deployed service members. When Michial could make phone calls home, he didn’t have much to say, instead he would rather listen to his 5-year-old son talk.

“That was the biggest thing and he told me about playing with the dog or playing with his toys,” Michial said.

In 1992, Michial chose to put his military career on pause and began driving a truck to support his family.

Years passed by and Michial’s children grew into adults and began families of their own, but the military was still close to his heart. He was proud and loved to serve his country and after seeing his son struggle he wanted to pass the opportunity to him.

“When I was going through dark times in my life and had a dead-end job, three kids and a wife, and nowhere to go, (my dad) came out of nowhere and said you need to talk to a recruiter,” said Senior Airman Brandon Smith, a 386th EAMXS AGE technician. “(My dad said) you need to get yourself a trade and that would be easiest way to get it. I know you can do it.”

Brandon took his father’s advice and talked to a recruiter. What Michial did not know was his son also talked to the recruiter about him re-enlisting in the military.

“We were sitting in a bar having a drink because it was (my son’s) birthday and that’s when he told me ‘dad, I’m going to be going into the service,’” Michial said. “I said well, you know if I was young enough and I could still get in, I would do it.”

Brandon informed his father that his 10 years of active-duty service allowed him to re-enlist. Michial could not believe what he was hearing. A chapter of his life he thought was closed forever was about to reopen.

Both father and son submitted their paperwork to join the military. Michial was able to retrain from ammunitions into AGE and was in the technical school when he received a phone call from his son.

“’Dad, I’m in basic training,’” said Michial, recalling the phone conversation. “More than that, we’re going to be stationed together and we’re going to be in the same shop together.”

More years passed and the father and son duo had the opportunity to deploy together.

Michial never thought in a million years he would be able to deploy with his son, let alone spend Father’s Day with him in Southwest Asia.

“This is one of the highlights of my career, being able to be here with (my son),” Michial said.

A father and a son deployed together, spending Father’s Day together is a rare moment, but one both will cherish.

“I understand where he has been and as a father myself, I have a lot more respect for him now than I ever did and a lot more understanding for him teaching me how he did,” Brandon said. “Above all, I love him to the fullest and I couldn’t ask for a better father.”