Father, son example of one team, one fight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Heather Skinkle
  • 451st Air Expeditionary Wing
(Editor's note: The interviewees' names are exactly the same, but Airman 1st Class Walter Josephs Jr. is referred to as Josephs Jr. on second reference for clarity purposes in this article.)

It isn't every day that a father has a chance to observe his son at work, especially if that son is in the Air Force and deployed to Afghanistan.

While Army 1st Sgt. Walter Josephs Jr. is on his sixth deployment, his son, Airman 1st Class Walter Josephs Jr., is on his first.

For Josephs, a field artillery instructor deployed from Fort Hood, Texas, to Kabul, Afghanistan, deployments are nothing new, especially after 25 years in the Army. When he found out he would be deployed to Afghanistan at the same time as his son, who is a 451st Air Expeditionary Wing services journeyman deployed here from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., Josephs couldn't resist checking in.

"I know the Air Force will take care of him, but nothing short of a presidential order could keep me from visiting my son to see him settling in," Josephs said.

Going the extra mile, quite literally, is the norm for Josephs, whether it's for his family or the Army. While Josephs was stationed in South Korea and Josephs Jr. went through basic training and technical training, Josephs flew out not once, but twice, to attend both graduations. Seeing his son's shocked expression on basic training graduation day was worth the 16-hour flight, said Josephs, but visiting his son while deployed is even more special.

"That God gave me the opportunity to be with him means more to me than winning $100 million dollars," he said. "It's truly priceless."

For Josephs Jr., he considers himself lucky to be able to see his father down range.

"Everyone around me is missing their family, so seeing my dad here is great," Josephs Jr. said.

Family isn't the only thing Josephs Jr. appreciates at Kandahar Airfield.

"This deployment has helped me realize how fortunate we are in the States," he said. "We have so many luxuries that most people don't have."

Josephs knows something about not having enough. He grew up in Panama and immigrated to the U.S. a in 1980. He even remembers the exact day he entered the U.S.

"(It was) Sept. 6, 1980," Josephs said. "I decided to leave and do something better with my life."

Six years later, his dreams of citizenship and serving in the Army were realized. Since then, he has risen through the ranks and has been selected for sergeant major, a rank very few achieve. Josephs attributes his successful career to keeping a focused but helpful attitude.

"You should be like a racehorse with blinders on -- just watch your lane," he said. "Don't worry about what others do. As long as you do what is right, you can make a difference."

Both father and son share a drive, attention to detail and willingness to help others.

"My dad taught me to give 110 percent in whatever I do," Josephs Jr. said.

Giving it his all is what Josephs Jr. does at home station and here.

"I'm in school for a medical career, but with services I'm a cook," he said. "I hate to cook, but I don't just throw things together. I try and do it right."

At Kandahar Airfield, Josephs Jr. works at the morale, welfare, and recreation building at Camp Samek. A chief at the MWR even complimented Josephs on raising such a nice, respectful son. Josephs said that makes him feel good.

"I'm so proud of the young man he's become and how he's contributing," Josephs said. "Watching him help provide a place for service members to eat, play games, rest and forget about their jobs for a little while is amazing."

Josephs said he's proud to explain to people what his son does in the Air Force. He tells people all the time, especially service members who might not feel their job is critical, that whether you are a cook or a pilot, everyone's role is important to the mission.

"Without cooks, the pilots wouldn't eat," he said.

Josephs Jr. doesn't plan to stay in one area of services for his entire enlistment, though. Once his education is complete, he hopes to be transferred to the gym where he can be an athletic trainer.

"I like a challenge," Josephs Jr. said. "I'm bored if things are simple. You don't improve that way."

Both father and son are driven to improve their lives. Josephs Jr. continues to challenge himself through education and Josephs hopes that by attaining a higher rank, he can continue to give back and make a difference. They are both examples of how exerting willpower helps not only their lives but others as well.

But even an energetic and committed person like Josephs experiences fatigue occasionally. After staying up on the night shift to be with Josephs Jr., he called his wife and explained he was having a hard time staying awake.

"She told me I could sleep later and that I should be cherishing this time with my son!" Josephs said.

Josephs's cherished albeit quick visit with his son had to come to an end. He was needed back at Kabul, where he continues doing what he's done throughout his career: taking care of Soldiers.

"Parents entrusted us to do that," he said.

Josephs said he realizes that just as he's watching over his Soldiers, the Air Force is watching over his son.

"I need to remember that he's an Airman," he said. "He's not a kid anymore."