By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – While stationed in Korea in 2005, just after he started dating his future wife, Staff Sgt. Eric Ervin, an infantryman and acting platoon leader in Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment would have never dreamed that he would one day be working for his future father-in-law.
Attesting it to a strange twist of fate shortly before the end of his tour in Korea, Ervin, who hails from Warren, Ohio, received orders to his next duty station—Fort Hood, Texas, where he was to report to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. It just so happens that his future battalion's top non-commissioned officer was none other than his future father-in-law, Command Sgt. Maj. Pablo Squiabro.
After nearly two years, a marriage in August of 2006, and the current deployment to Iraq, Ervin and Squiabro keep their relationship on the job strictly professional although they are now family.
"I'm still a command sergeant major and he's still a Soldier," said Squiabro, who hails from San Antonio. "He's professional enough to understand the separation between work and family, and that at home and off duty, we're family. But in the work environment, he calls me sergeant major and I call him sergeant."
"We keep the whole professional thing going at work," said Ervin, who is the step-father to Squiabro's four-year-old granddaughter. "When we get around each other after work that's when we can joke around."
Ervin said that having a command sergeant major for a father-in-law, hasn't really affected his relationships with other Soldiers in his unit.
"They've been good about it, everyone from NCOs down to the Joes," Ervin said.
"Sometimes he does take a little ribbing for it by the guys in his company, but he's not getting any special treatment," said Squiabro.
While at home with their families, they do the same kinds of things that most people do to include going out to eat, going to movies and just joking around, they said.
They recently ribbed each other over Squiabro's recent trip home on leave.
"He just went home on leave and he has a picture where he's sitting in my new chair—a chair that my wife just bought and I haven't even seen yet—and he's picking his feet," joked Ervin.
"There's also a picture of me where I'm wearing his T-shirt that my daughter let me wear," laughed Squiabro. "I'll keep it and then wear it the next time I see him."
Ervin, who has spent nearly 10 years in the Army, will be going on leave within a few days and said he has a few things he has to joke about with his mother-in-law.
"I'm definitely going to have to go see mom, and tell her a few things" said Ervin, looking at his father-in-law with a wide grin.
One of the things the two said they miss most is spending holidays such as Christmas and New Years with family. In early October 2006, just days prior to deploying, the two arranged a special Halloween themed event for their family.
"We had a pumpkin carving contest, and all the couples and their kids were involved in it - and we were pushing each other and really having a good time," said Ervin.
Squiabro, who has three daughters and four grandchildren, said that his family is so closely knit that they live less than five minutes apart of each other near Killeen, Texas.
So separating from family has not been easy, said Ervin and Squiabro, but both understand that their mission comes first.
"Unfortunately, most of the time, since we've (my wife and I have) been together, I've spent a lot of time training, deployed to Korea, now Iraq. But we do what we can as a family, and I live the life of a Soldier," said Ervin, adding that he likes what he is doing in Iraq which mainly involves going on patrols and other missions to root out insurgents in the Taji Market area near Camp Taji.
"He really didn't get to spend much time with his family, because he went to the basic non-commissioned officer's course and then we went to training at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La.," said Squiabro.
Despite the separations, both Squiabro and Ervin said the unique situation of having family to lean on in Iraq has made things a little easier on them this deployment.
"It's a good feeling, like having an extension of your family here," said Squiabro. "Off duty, we can talk."
"It keeps things a little more family-oriented for us," said Ervin. "It's like having a part of home with you. Sometimes, I call my parents but they're so busy working that I can't reach them. So it's like having my dad here with me."
Ervin and Squiabro are both on their second tour to Iraq and although the deployment can be rough on their family, having the two of them in the combat zone, they said their wives are making the best of it.
"Naturally, they're both (my wife and daughter are) worried about having us over here, but they're okay with it and understand what we're doing here and they're proud of us," said Squiabro who has spent 29 years in the Army.
This work, Keeping it professional: Soldier separates work, family, by SFC Jon Cupp, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.