FORWARD OPERATING BASE LAGMAN, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LAGMAN, Afghanistan – For as long as there has been an Army there have been stories of triumph, stories of loss and often time-embellished stories told by a grandfather to his grandchildren or a father to a son or daughter who sat wide eyed hanging on every word.
Many children will grow up to remember these stories for what they truly were, a faint memory embroidered with heroics and relived at family gatherings. But for the Crist family the stories told and memories cherished will be those of a deployment shared by a father and son.
Like many children, Spc. Daren Crist followed in his father’s footsteps making sure not to fall too far behind.
“I wanted to follow the same path as my dad,” he said.
After enlisting in the Army in 2008, nearly 20 years after his dad Master Sgt. Brian Crist, the soon to be imagery analyst was shipped off to basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., followed by advanced individual training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and then his first permanent duty station at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Daren’s path was headed in a different direction than his father’s, who had enlisted in 1987 to be a wheeled vehicle mechanic, but it wasn’t long before the two paths would realign.
As his original commitment to the Army entered its final two years, a window opened for Daren to serve next to his father. He jumped at the opportunity despite the fact that his dad’s unit, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, was gearing up for a deployment to Afghanistan.
“It’s not every day a Soldier gets the opportunity to deploy with [his] dad,” the 20-year-old said.
“He left his cushy assignment at Fort Sam to re-enlist and come to the Stryker Brigade and deploy to Afghanistan,” the 24-year Army veteran and senior career counselor for the 1/25 SBCT said. “It makes me feel great.”
Since deploying to southern Afghanistan in April the two have continue their commitment to one another, making sure to see each other every day.
“It’s awesome,” said Daren, a Governor, N.Y., native. “I get to see my best friend every day.”
“If he was in another location and I didn’t have eyes on him I would worry,” Brian said. “Knowing that we have the ability to see each other every day makes it easier.”
On June 1, Daren and his dad shared a once in a lifetime experience for them as the young specialist pinned his dad with the rank of master sergeant.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to have your son promote you in a combat zone,” Brian said.
The promotion not only symbolized a lifetime of dedication by Brian but also set the bar for Daren.
“Seeing how everyone in my dad’s office respects him and how they view him is definitely motivating,” the imagery analyst said. “[His promotion] definitely gives me something to work toward.”
Although they both agree that the deployment together has strengthened their bond there are still times where the line between being a dad and a senior noncommissioned officer is tested.
“Growing up I would get the NCO talk and then five minutes later I would get the dad talk,” Daren laughed.
“There are the normal things you see as a dad that you want to step in and help but I know I can’t. I have to let him find his way,” Brian said. “At the same time I haven’t ever had to intervene because of his outstanding leaders.”
No matter how gray or thin the line may get for the Crist battle-buddy team, the expectations from father to son are still clear.
“As a parent you want your child to do the best they can,” Brian said. “As an enlisted soldier I want him to be master of his craft, know what his [military occupational specialty] is and strive to be the best.”
Just like every story, the Crist family deployment will have an end but it’s a story they look forward to retelling in the years to come.
“To be able to sit down in 10 or 15 years and talk about our deployment is going to be an exciting experience,” Brian said.
||FORWARD OPERATING BASE LAGMAN, AF
This work, Father-son team deploy to Afghanistan, by SSG Thomas Duval, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.