News: Father and son serve side-by-side in Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. Tanjie Patterson
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan—When it comes to deployments, the hardest part for many soldiers is saying goodbye to their loved ones, especially to their children. For 1st Sgt. Glenn Myers, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 495th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion-Montana National Guard, he did not have to bid farewell to one child, because Alex, his son, is currently deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan with him.
Sgt. Alex Myers, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist, was the non-commissioned officer in charge for the funeral honors program in Southeast Montana before he was asked to join the 495th CSSB on their combat tour.
“The unit needed a 74D because the one they had wasn’t deploying, so my son Alex not only has that job, but also had the experience from his tour in Iraq that the battalion commander and executive officer were looking for,” said Glenn.
Glenn, who was also assigned to a different unit prior to the deployment, was asked to fill an open first sergeant position with the 495th CSSB. The father and son have been assigned to the same unit since August 2012.
For active-duty service members, to have a subordinate fall under a senior that he or she is related to can be considered a conflict of interest, but with the National Guard and Reserve-components, positions are often filled based on availability and experience.
“In some National Guard units you will have family members working together, whether it is brother and sister, husband and wife, or parent and child,” explained Glenn. “We Guardsmen are use to that, more so than the active-duty Soldiers.”
Glenn said he also had a very candid discussion with the unit commander about working with his son, and they were able to overcome that obstacle.
“I call him first sergeant,” said Alex. “We’re here to do a job. It’s not about who’s your dad or mom or brother or sister. When you come here you have to leave all that stuff behind. When you’re in this environment, it has to be a professional setting.”
Alex says he doesn’t take advantage of the fact that his first sergeant is his dad. He says he uses his chain of command and goes through the proper channels when handling issues.
For the Myers men, maintaining professionalism is not a new concept, either. It began during Alex’s childhood when Glenn coached his basketball and boxing team.
“He had to call me coach (not dad),” said Glenn.
Some may think that having your father as your first sergeant would make life easier, but Alex will beg to differ.
“I think that because he’s my dad, he knows that I’m a very dependable person, so I get asked to do a lot of things,” he said. “I feel that I sometimes have to take on a little bit extra.”
Glenn admits that he does lean a little bit harder on Alex but also says that his son volunteers often and ‘leads from the front.’
Separating his role as a parent and as a leader may not be a very hard task for Glenn but he still possesses a fatherly concern when his soldier-son leaves goes 'outside the wire.'
“When he goes on missions, I worry a lot, but I trust in him and his training, as well as in his equipment, that he’s going to be ok,” said Glenn.
Glenn, who has been in the military for 34 years, and Alex, who has served for almost five years, both joined the Army for some of the same reasons—to serve their country and to be patriots.
“I would tell anyone who is deploying with a Family Member to leave the fact that you are family back home, and keep it professional so that it doesn’t hinder the mission in any way,” said Alex. “You work hard and exceed the standard every day, and when you get back home, that’s when you can start having that family connection again.”
Glenn, who agrees with his son, added, “I would tell them to sit down with their children and tell them that they can’t confuse the two. It’s important that they remember the Army values, that they’re soldiers first and the mission is priority.