Face of Defense: Father, Son Reunite in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — It’s not often that a father and son meet in a com­bat zone, but that’s what hap­pened when Mis­souri Army Nation­al Guard Staff Sgt. Robert W. Phar­ris reunit­ed with his son, Marine Corps Cpl. Ben­jamin J. Phar­ris here Nov. 17.
The last time the two had seen each oth­er was Christ­mas 2009, when Cpl. Phar­ris was home on leave.

Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
Army Staff Sgt. Robert W. Phar­ris, left, greets his son, Marine Cpl. Ben­jamin J. Phar­ris, at Kan­da­har Air­field, Afghanistan, Nov. 17, 2010.
U.S. Army pho­to by 1st Lt. Andrew B. Adcock
Click to enlarge

Staff Sgt. Phar­ris now is serv­ing in Afghanistan on his first deploy­ment as a mem­ber of the Nan­garhar Agri-Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Team IV, with Task Force Bastogne. 

“We’re one com­po­nent of rebuild­ing the Afghan infra­struc­ture. We take grad­u­ates from Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty and work with them as they improve their agri­cul­tur­al and farm­ing skills,” the staff sergeant said. 

First enlist­ing in the Army in 1981, and lat­er in the Army Nation­al Guard, Phar­ris has more than 14 years of ser­vice in a vari­ety of assign­ments. Pri­mar­i­ly serv­ing as an infantry­man, he also has served as a drill sergeant and recruiter. After leav­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice in 1997 and expe­ri­enc­ing an 11-year break, Phar­ris re-joined the Mis­souri Army Nation­al Guard in 2008 after he learned that an infantry unit was being formed. 

“I sur­prised my son by hav­ing him show up at my re-enlist­ment cer­e­mo­ny. He had no idea I was re-enlist­ing,” Phar­ris said. 

Phar­ris’ Marine son, also on his first deploy­ment, is serv­ing at Kan­da­har Air­field as an indi­vid­ual aug­mentee sup­ply spe­cial­ist with the 184th Expe­di­tionary Sus­tain­ment Com­mand, a Mis­sis­sip­pi Army Nation­al Guard unit that assumed the respon­si­bil­i­ties of Joint Sus­tain­ment Com­mand-Afghanistan, Oct. 17. “As a Marine indi­vid­ual aug­mentee, I had no idea I was com­ing to a Nation­al Guard unit. It’s been a great expe­ri­ence so far and I want to con­tin­ue to learn and do well,” the Marine said. 

Mil­i­tary tra­di­tion runs deep in the Phar­ris fam­i­ly. In addi­tion to Cpl. Phar­ris’ father, his moth­er, grand­fa­ther, and great-grand­fa­ther served in the mil­i­tary. His great grand­fa­ther served in the South Pacif­ic dur­ing World War II. The Marine recount­ed one of his child­hood mem­o­ries that buoyed his deci­sion to join the military. 

“When my mom received an award on the parade field,” he said, “I knew that I would serve. The only ques­tion that was left unan­swered for quite some time was which ser­vice I would join.” Phar­ris enlist­ed in the Marine Corps in 2007 after com­plet­ing high school early. 

Phar­ris said he’s ful­ly sup­port­ive of his son’s deci­sion to serve in the mil­i­tary. “He has done very well and I’m look­ing for­ward to his pro­mo­tion to sergeant,” the father said of his son. “He has con­tin­ued the family’s mil­i­tary tra­di­tion with the same pride in service.” 

While deploy­ment is nev­er easy on fam­i­lies, the father and son agree that being togeth­er is one of the best things about deploy­ing to a com­bat zone. “Like any dad, I wor­ry about my son. I just wish we served in clos­er prox­im­i­ty to each oth­er,” Phar­ris said. 

“I love it that my dad is over here the same time as I am,” the son said. 

The father and son have found effec­tive ways to deal with stress while serv­ing in a com­bat zone. Both like to exer­cise dur­ing their “down” time, and hon­ing their video-game and card-play­ing skills. 

“I came to Afghanistan to make a tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence,” the father said. “Hope­ful­ly, 20 years from now, some­one will remem­ber an Amer­i­can who was here and be thank­ful their life is better.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →