BRYAN, TEXAS – A warm breeze gently rocks the flag outside of the Bryan Reserve Center as the sun crests above the horizon on a Sunday morning as Soldiers quietly enter the building. This can be any typical Sunday morning in June however, this Sunday in June has a special meaning.
The third Sunday in June celebrates Father's Day in the United States. In the military, Father's Day is a reminder, for some, of the sacrifices made by those who serve and their families who serve with them.
Sgt. 1st Class Erick Rodriguez, a Reserve Soldier from Killeen, Texas, and serving as a Operations Non-Commissioned Officer with the 205th Theater Public Affairs Support Element in San Antonio, Texas, enlisted as an active duty Soldier in 2003. Rodriguez has three children, 13, 11, and 2 years old.
“My second son was born while I was in Afghanistan,” said Rodriguez. “I missed the birth and the first eight months with him.”
Rodriguez went on to explain how his son was born early and spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“I wish I could have been there,” Rodriguez lamented. “I felt down because I couldn't be there for him.”
There is a saying: distance makes the heart grow fonder.
“The day I came home, his face lit up,” Rodriguez said with a big grin. “He recognized me as if I had never left and it made me feel like a million bucks.”
For Rodriguez, his sacrifices seem to be forgiven by his children for not being there all the time and his children are now tied to his hip.
Spc. Zackrey Waterman's step-father served in the Army for 32 years as an active and Reserve Soldier. Waterman is a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to the 211th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Bryan, Texas, and is from Burlington, Iowa.
“My father spent time in a training unit and was always traveling back and forth from training bases and home for months at a time,” said Waterman.
“I remember one time he was in a hospital for a year after a deployment injury, we were going to visit him a lot,” said Waterman. “It seemed like we spent more time at the hospital than at home.”
Even in peacetime, fathers are remembered for their devotion to the military.
Sgt. James Barrington's father served for 18 years in a Army aviation unit. Barrington was born in Germany and currently resides in Austin, Texas and is serving as a Public Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer also with the 211th MPAD was 8 years old when his father was medically retired.
“Even though he served during peacetime, he still made sacrifices with his time away during his field exercises,” said Barrington.
“I remember going to work with him and washing Cobras,” reminiscences Barrington.
Barrington reminds us that sacrifices are made by military fathers, whether in wartime or peacetime.
Father's Day is not just another Sunday. Father's Day is a day to celebrate fathers, all fathers, from all walks of life. But for military families, it means just a little more. It reminds us that military fathers are devoted and make sacrifices. A sacrifice that not only affects them, but also affects their families.