Friday, December 15, 2006

Father, sons reunite in Baghdad

By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div.

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — During the Civil War and World War I it was normal to see fathers and sons serving together in combat. Since then, over 100 years ago, it has been rare to see them serving together - until today.
Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Mahoney, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, command sergeant major and native of Clarksville, Tenn., visited with his two sons, Pfc. Tyler Mahoney and 1st Lt. Ricky Mandello, Nov. 7 here.
Tyler, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., who serves as a medic with the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, had been in Iraq less than two weeks when he was told that he was going to take a helicopter trip. He had no idea he was scheduled to meet up with his father and brother.
“The 4th Bde., 25th Inf. Regt., commander, was coming to visit our brigade and I asked him if he would bring my son,” Mahoney said. “When I found out Tyler was coming I contacted Ricky to see if he would be able to come.”
Mandello, a platoon leader with the 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, and native of San Diego, was near the end of his one-year tour at Camp Adder, Iraq when he was contacted by his father, Mahoney, to see if he would be able to get to Camp Striker, Iraq for a visit with Mahoney and Tyler.
Mandello was able to get a ride to Striker with one of the convoys that was transporting supplies.
After Mandello arrived at Striker he met up with his father, Mahoney, and went to greet Tyler as he stepped off the helicopter.
“It was an awesome feeling (to see my dad and brother),” Tyler said. “I have not seen them in a long time.”
The three of them, Mahoney, Mandello and Tyler, had not seen each other in about a year.
“The last time we were all together was last Christmas,” Mahoney said.
While together, they visited palaces, took photos and reminisced.
Mahoney recalled memories of the boys when they were younger.
“My sons would dress up in Battle -Dress Uniforms when they were younger – especially Ricky,” Mahoney recalled. “I also remember Tyler being born at Fort Hood, Texas, when I was just a private first class.”
Mandello and Tyler spoke of what it was like having a father in the military having to move from place to place.
“I remember anytime my dad was changing duty stations that it meant we were going on a road trip across country in a pop-up camper,” Mandello said. “We have been from Texas to Alaska and Alaska to Georgia.”
“I developed a lot of character by changing social statuses and making new friends when we moved,” Tyler said.
Mandello and Tyler also commented on their feelings about his father serving in the military for 23 years.
“My father has been in the Army longer than I have been alive,” Tyler commented.
“It takes a lot of courage to come over here (to Iraq) more than one time and my father has come over here numerous times,” Mandello said. “I have seen some of the sacrifices my father has made and (by my brother and me serving in the military) we are paying back some of the sacrifices he made.”
When Mahoney’s sons were old enough, he drove them to the recruiting station and told them to pick which branch of service they wanted to join. Mandello and Tyler both picked the Army and Mahoney’s third son, Jeremy, chose the Air Force.
Mandello joined the Army Reserves originally as an enlisted Soldier and the other two sons chose to serve as enlisted-active-duty service members.
“I don’t expect my children to spend their lives in the military as I have, but I expect them to do their duty while they are in and give something back to the country,” Mahoney said. “I think the military is one of the best methods for allowing men and women to mature and gain some experience. In the military people learn things they do not learn in the civilian world.”
Although Mahoney has been on many deployments and was away a lot he always made time to support his children.
“I was on block leave after my first Operation Iraqi Freedom tour when I attended Tyler’s graduation from Basic Combat Training in Fort Leonard Wood, Miss.,” Mahoney said. “And I attended Jeremy’s graduation from Air Force Basic Training at Lakland Air Force Base in Texas before I deployed to Afghanistan.”
After Tyler graduated from Advanced Individual Training his first duty assignment was the 1st Bn., 501st Inf. Regt., 4th Bde., 25th Inf. Div., formerly known as the 2nd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment. Mahoney was a charter member of the 1st Bn., 501st Inf. Regt.
“I was a sergeant serving with the 2nd Bn., 17th Inf. Regt., when it was reflagged to the 1st Bn., 501st Inf. Regt., in the late ‘80s,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney also recalled what it was like to have Tyler when he was a private first class and making less than $1,000 a month.
“It was no tougher then than it is today,” Mahoney stated. “You realize you may not have everything you want, but you have everything you need.”
Now that Tyler is a private first class and serving in the military like his father he reflects on the pride he feels while in uniform.
“I think joining the military is something everyone should do – at least for a little while,” Tyler said. “I feel that my father is the best infantryman, my brother is the best engineer and I am the best medic.”
Mandello, who originally was an enlisted Soldier decided to switch to the officer corps so that he would be more involved with the decisions made in the military.
“I enlisted in the military ten years ago and I got commissioned because I felt I could have impact on what the Soldiers are doing. I wanted to be a part of the planning process and help to make decisions,” Mandello said.
Although Mandello has been an officer for two years, he has yet to be saluted from his father.
“I don’t salute Ricky because I like to make him mad,” Mahoney said.
Since Mandello has been in the Army he has been deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He did a tour in Iraq and volunteered as a platoon leader so he could deploy again.
“I think it is a great opportunity (being in Iraq) to bring Democracy to a part of the world that has little experience with it. I am proud to be here,” Mandello commented. “I think serving in Iraq is an honorable thing to do and every American has an obligation to serve their country in some form or fashion.”
Tyler, a first-term Soldier, is on his first tour to Iraq.
“I do not worry about my sons (in Iraq) anymore than I worry about the rest of the Soldiers in the Army,” Mahoney said. “I trust in the training that the Army provides to the Soldiers, to include my sons, and the quality of leadership the Army produces.”
After Mahoney’s sons departed Striker he took a moment to share his thoughts.
“When I see my children who are now grown up and serving the nation in uniform I have a proud feeling,” Mahoney said. “I have the deepest respect for what my sons are doing for the nation, just like the rest of America’s youth serving in uniform.”

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