News: Father, son deploy to Afghanistan together
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Some children follow in their father’s footsteps by joining the “family business.” One son out of Oklahoma carried on that tradition by not only joining his father’s Army National Guard unit but also joining him in a deployment to Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Jeffery E. Patterson, of Wellston, Okla., noncommissioned officer-in-charge of logistics for Headquarters, Headquarters Company, and his son U.S. Army Spc. Jeffery D. Patterson (Derrick) of Sulphur, Okla., a grenadier in Company C, 1st Battalion 179th Infantry, both with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Thunderbird are deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in eastern Afghanistan.
Jeffery is not new to the military. He has been mobilized for Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008. He served many jobs in the military, including computer repair, recruiting and eventually as a senior NCO in charge of logistics. He spent most of his time in the 45th on active guard status working full time with the Oklahoma National Guard.
Derrick just recently joined the 45th IBCT, but he said he plans on joining the ranks of the active duty and becoming an Army ranger.
“I’ve always wanted to join the military especially seeing my dad in it,” said Derrick.
“He’s been saying ‘air assault and HUA’ ever since he was two,” said Jeffery. “Even though I wasn’t in recruiting at the time, I kind of helped him get where he needed to be when he said he wanted to join as infantry.”
Having a father in the same military unit doesn’t go unnoticed, especially when he’s a master sergeant, said Jeffery.
“People may give him a hard time, but he’s good at his job,” said Jeffery referring to his son. “He always feels he has to perform a little bit better.”
Jeffery recently saw his son off just before an air assault mission into a valley in southern Laghman province, Afghanistan.
“It’s really emotional watching him fly off in a helicopter knowing where he’s going,” said Jeffery, “When he’s on a helicopter heading to a valley, there’s the unknown to worry about. It is hard not knowing if he’s about to land in a hail of gun fire.”
There is a big difference seeing someone leave on a full deployment and actually being there when they are going on a mission, Jeffery said.
“When deploying you know the steps and processes and at that time it’s relatively safe. You’re not going into immediate danger,” said Jeffery. “Of course he has a team, squad, or platoon to keep him safe and they look after each other quite well.”
Derrick made it safely back from the mission a few days later.