CAMP MARMAL, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan – Separation from loved ones is a common burden troops face during deployment, but for two soldiers in the Iowa National Guard, family is only an office away.
Master Sgt. Dean Kennebeck, battalion operations non-commissioned officer in charge, and Pfc. Megan Kennebeck, unit supply specialist, 1034th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Task Force Durable, deployed together to Afghanistan in October this year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The father and daughter duo flew thousands of miles from their hometown of Ankeny, Iowa, to northern Afghanistan where they work in the same battalion and same building.
"You hear about families being deployed over here, but they're separated from base to base," said Master Sgt. Kennebeck, a veteran with 21 years of military service. "But we're in the same unit and see each other every day. It's pretty nice."
Both father and daughter said deploying together was a relief as well as an additional support system.
"With this being my first deployment, it's nice knowing I have family with me," said Pfc. Kennebeck.
Master Sgt. Kennebeck added, "It eases my mind somewhat knowing I can help prepare her for what is about to happen. I definitely know it eases her mom's mind a lot too."
Master Sgt. Kennebeck, who has deployed three times, said he joined the Army after high school in order to become a military policeman. After serving seven years on active duty, he then transitioned into the National Guard.
Pfc. Kennebeck said one reason she joined was to follow in her father's footsteps.
"I have pictures from when I was a kid wearing all of his Army gear," said Pfc. Kennebeck, who has served for three years. "He was always a hero to me."
Having a father with 21 years of military experience proved beneficial to Pfc. Kennebeck when she decided to join the service. She said her father helped prepare her for basic training and drill weekend, as well living life as a soldier.
"I was very supportive of Megan joining but I wanted to make sure it was her decision so I gave her every possible pro and con there is to the military," said Master Sgt. Kennebeck. "Once she made up her mind we talked an awful lot about things to do to help mentally and physically prepare her."
He added, "I was obviously scared as a parent, because one of the things I told her is when you join the military, the bottom line is you have to anticipate going to war. Yet I know the military trains well and if they can, they'll take care of you. I knew she would be in good hands."
Although the two soldiers are related, they said they don't allow their family relationship to interfere with work.
Pfc. Kennebeck said her view of Master Sgt. Kennebeck as a father doesn't distort her view of his role as a senior NCO.
"People tell me it's OK to call him dad and I tell them no because we're in uniform," said Pfc. Kennebeck. "We're at work so I call him master sergeant and treat him with that respect."
Despite her father being a senior NCO in their unit, Pfc. Kennebeck said she earns her way by her own merit.
"Since day one, I’ve said I don't want any special treatment," she said. "I've wanted to work from the ground level up."
While professionalism is the number one priority for the Kennebecks, they said they and the soldiers in 1034th CSSB keep a good sense of humor about their relationship. Since Master Sgt. Kennebeck is not his daughter's direct supervisor, they are able to joke about their family relationship with fellow Soldiers.
"It's not like she's in my office so I don't have to yell at her all the time," said Master Sgt. Kennebeck. "I do, on purpose, try to stay out of her NCO business. Her supervisors ask me my opinion because I know her so well but I tell them it's their decision on how they handle her as their soldier."
The Kennebecks said while their deployment together will be a unique experience, it will only enhance their already treasured relationship.
"For me, our bond couldn't get any stronger,” said Pfc. Kennebeck.
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This work, Father, daughter National Guardsmen deploy together, by SSG V. Michelle Woods, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.