Father, Son Reunite in Afghanistan
(December 8, 2010)
|KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 6, 2010 – It's not often that a father and
son meet in a combat zone, but that's what happened when Missouri Army National
Guard Staff Sgt. Robert W. Pharris reunited with his son, Marine Corps Cpl.
Benjamin J. Pharris here Nov. 17.
Army Staff Sgt. Robert W. Pharris, left,
greets his son, Marine Cpl. Benjamin J. Pharris, at Kandahar
Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 17, 2010.
The last time the two had seen each other was Christmas 2009, when Cpl. Pharris
was home on leave.
Staff Sgt. Pharris now is serving in Afghanistan on his first deployment as a
member of the Nangarhar Agri-Business Development Team IV, with Task Force
“We're one component of rebuilding the Afghan infrastructure. We take graduates
from Nangarhar University and work with them as they improve their agricultural
and farming skills,” the staff sergeant said.
First enlisting in the Army in 1981, and later in the Army National Guard,
Pharris has more than 14 years of service in a variety of assignments. Primarily
serving as an infantryman, he also has served as a drill sergeant and recruiter.
After leaving military service in 1997 and experiencing an 11-year break,
Pharris re-joined the Missouri Army National Guard in 2008 after he learned that
an infantry unit was being formed.
“I surprised my son by having him show up at my re-enlistment
ceremony. He had no idea I was re-enlisting,” Pharris said.
Pharris' Marine son, also on his first deployment, is
serving at Kandahar Airfield as an individual augmentee
supply specialist with the 184th Expeditionary Sustainment
Command, a Mississippi Army National Guard unit that assumed
the responsibilities of Joint Sustainment
Command-Afghanistan, Oct. 17.
“As a Marine individual augmentee, I had no idea I was
coming to a National Guard unit. It's been a great
experience so far and I want to continue to learn and do
well,” the Marine said.
Military tradition runs deep in the Pharris family. In
addition to Cpl. Pharris' father, his mother, grandfather,
and great-grandfather served in the military. His great
grandfather served in the South Pacific during World War II.
The Marine recounted one of his childhood memories that
buoyed his decision to join the military.
“When my mom received an award on the parade field,” he
said, “I knew that I would serve. The only question that was
left unanswered for quite some time was which service I
would join.” Pharris enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2007
after completing high school early.
Pharris said he's fully supportive of his son's decision to
serve in the military.
“He has done very well and I'm looking forward to his
promotion to sergeant,” the father said of his son. “He has
continued the family's military tradition with the same
pride in service.”
While deployment is never easy on families, the father and
son agree that being together is one of the best things
about deploying to a combat zone.
“Like any dad, I worry about my son. I just wish we served
in closer proximity to each other,” Pharris said.
“I love it that my dad is over here the same time as I am,”
the son said.
The father and son have found effective ways to deal with
stress while serving in a combat zone. Both like to exercise
during their “down” time, and honing their video-game and
“I came to Afghanistan to make a tangible difference,” the
father said. “Hopefully, 20 years from now, someone will
remember an American who was here and be thankful their life
Article and photo by Army 1st Lt. Andrew B. Adcock
Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan
American Forces Press Service
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