Seven Father-Son Teams Serving in Unit
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) _ First Sgt. Cody Mosier isn’t sure what would happen if his unit came under fire and his fellow soldier, son Travis, was shot. He only knows what he hopes he will do.
``I would hope I would continue on with the job. I’ve got 90 other guys I’ve got to worry about,″ said Mosier, of Whitwell, Tenn.
Their unit, the 1st Battalion of the 181st Field Artillery of the Tennessee Army National Guard, is unusual in having seven fathers serving with their sons.
``I don’t think it’s a bad thing,″ said Staff Sgt. Roy Ware of Chattanooga, Tenn. ``It’s just the way times have changed now. In any industry or any job-related field, sons follow their fathers.″
Military regulations do not prohibit immediate family from serving together, and National Guard units, drawn from the population of the communities where they are based, often tap families with generations of a military tradition.
The 422-member unit specializes in operating mobile rocket launchers. Its soldiers from Tennessee and Georgia have spent the past month at Fort Campbell training on perimeter defense and protecting checkpoints, as they await orders.
The number of fathers serving with sons swelled to seven when this unit, which served in Kuwait and Iraq during Desert Storm, was activated in January. That prompted two 23-year-old sons _ Spcs. Jeffery Ware and Jeb Kittle _ to join up to serve with their fathers.
Ware was studying aviation electronics in Oklahoma already in the National Guard, so he quickly notified his unit he was transferring and now works under his father on communications.
Serving with dad is better than waiting for him as he did during Desert Storm.
``I was always checking the mail making sure there were letters,″ Jeffery Ware said. ``If I didn’t receive a letter every week, I knew something was wrong. (Now) I know where he’s at. I don’t have to worry about him too much.″
Jeb Kittle, an Army veteran, left his job on a Gulf of Mexico oil rig to join the same battery as his father, Sgt. James Kittle, 47, of Ringgold, Ga.
``I probably wouldn’t have done it if he hadn’t been in the unit,″ Jeb Kittle said. ``I knew they had a very high probability of being deployed. That’s why I joined up.″
Line up the 14 men with fathers in back and sons in front, and it’s easy to see the relationships.
But Guard officials didn’t tally seven fathers and seven sons until the unit prepared to mobilize, said Sgt. 1st Class Randy Harris, the Tennessee Guard’s public affairs director. Tennessee Guard officials believe the number of father-son pairs is the most of any guard unit in the country.
``We got everybody together, it was kind of apparent we have a lot of fathers and sons here. We knew we had some. We didn’t realize we had that many,″ he said.
Maj. Paul Ballinger, 54, of Lafayette, Ga., not only serves in the same unit as his son, Pfc. Ryan Ballinger, 25, of Ringgold. His son-in-law Randy Vaughn also is a soldier there.
``My sister probably has it the hardest,″ Ryan Ballinger said. ``She’s missing three.″
Staff Sgt. Richard Mullins, 44, of Chattanooga is one of four fathers serving in the same battery as their sons. It’s only some comfort to his wife.
``She’s really worried about it in a lot of ways both of us being gone,″ Richard Mullins said. ``Of course, she feels a little bit better that we’re both going together. She knows I’ll take care of him. Or vice versa. We take care of each other.″
On the Net:
Tennessee Army National Guard: http://www.tnarmyguard.com/