News: Father follows son to war
Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Mills
3rd Combat Aviation Brigade
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – When Fred Hodges' son, Spc. Christopher Hodges, deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fred did what many fathers aren't able to do. He followed his son to the war zone.
Being a chief warrant officer in the Army Reserve helped Fred make that happen.
"Once I knew he was (deploying) I actually crossed over to another unit to come over here, so we could be here at the same time," Fred said.
While his son Christopher is based at Camp Striker in Baghdad as an aviation operations specialist, Fred, a medical maintenance warrant officer with the 325th Combat Surgical Hospital, hops between Contingency Operating Base Speicher and Al Asad Airfield. He deployed to Iraq in August, while Christopher has been deployed since May.
Fred was able to visit Christopher for the first time during the first week of November as he trained medics on Camp Cropper, adjacent to Camp Striker.
What was to be a three or four day visit was extended, while Fred waits for a flight back to COB Speicher. The delay in his father's return hasn't hurt at all, Christopher said.
"It's a morale booster," Christopher said. "It was the perfect time, being here for six months and then he came over here. It's like a piece of home because I don't go on leave for another six months."
Home for the Hodges is Augusta, Ga., a mere 2.5 hour drive from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, where Christopher's unit is based. Being able to visit in Iraq is a sort of transplant of that arrangement, both Hodges said.
Fred joined the Army 24 years ago, completing a career in the active Army before moving on to the Reserves. He says that he had some hand in Christopher's choice to join the Army.
"I kind of pushed him toward it a little bit," Fred said.
Christopher, for his part, disagrees with that statement.
"It was a big push," he said. "But, you know, it was a good decision. Pops is always right – some of the time."
At the time he joined the Army, Christopher was going to follow in his father's footsteps and join the medical field but it didn't work out.
This trend of following each other has its limits though, according to Christopher. Once he reaches the end of his enlistment he's going to go on to taste civilian life. Fred said that he wasn't going to be able to push his son into re-enlisting.
"But that's what a lot of Soldiers say: 'I'm going to get out,' then they re-enlist and keep re-enlisting until they retire," Fred said.
In the meantime the two Hodges will try to see each other as much as they can during their deployment to Iraq.
"We've been talking about getting together for the holidays," Fred said.