TIKRIT, Iraq – Soldiers deployed to northern Iraq with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, are spending Father’s Day away from their loved ones this year.
However, the love that ‘Dragon’ brigade fathers feel for their children is unbreakable despite the distance separating them from their Families.
According to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael McCoy, the top noncommissioned officer of the ‘Dragon’ brigade, it’s important to make time with your children and let them know that they are loved and appreciated.
“I’ve learned through my time in the military that you have to make time for your kids and when you do, you have to make sure it’s quality time,” said McCoy.
“No matter how tired you are or what the weather’s like there’s always something that can be done with your children, and I value that every day,” he added. “I’m just proud to know that I have two wonderful children. I appreciate them and they appreciate me, I know they do. I think every father should appreciate their children because they carry on our legacy and that’s what I have from my legacy – my two children.”
Sergeant Michael Daugherty of Jonesboro, Ark., an engineer with Alpha Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, is on his third deployment to Iraq. He says that the hardest part about being a Soldier and father is not always being around to see his children grow.
“It’s hard not being around to see them grow through their different stages of life,” said Daugherty. “Sometimes, I worry that there might be times when they won’t recognize me.”
However, the most fulfilling part about being a father for Daugherty is having someone to take care of and giving his daughter, Gabrielle, 1, and his son, Michael, 7, something to look forward to.
In addition to getting married and joining the military, Staff Sgt. Adam Treen, a combat engineer with Co. A, 4-1 BSTB said becoming a father was one of the best things that’s ever happened to him.
“I remember holding him at just a minute old and saying, ‘Hey, chief.’ That was the first thing I ever said to him,” said the Ohioville, Pa., native about his son, Max. “He was just this little, tiny thing and now he’s turned 11 and he’s four foot nine. He’s turned into quite the young man.”
“It’s one of the greatest feelings to have,” said Sgt. Joshua Cookson, a geospatial NCO with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th IBCT, “being able to be a parent and being able to have someone who looks up to you.”
Cookson, a father of three and a native of Holyoke, Mass., who is on his third deployment to Iraq, said the first time he became a father was one of the proudest moments in his life.
“I was TDY at the time and I came back,” he recalled of the birth of his 4-year-old son, Jacob. “I was able to go back home for a week on leave. I got there a few hours after he was born, my wife was asleep and he was lying in the crib next to her. I was actually afraid to touch him – he was so tiny. It was just a feeling of pride being able to see that I helped to create him, and I was looking forward to being able to raise and teach him. I was looking forward to just being able to be a dad.”
To all of the fathers currently serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, thanks for your service and sacrifice – Happy Father’s Day.