my father, a career soldier. He served in the South Pacific during WWII, Korea, and twice in Vietnam. He and my mother divorced when I was six, and I saw my dad once when I was sixteen. Shortly after I graduated from West Point, he and I
reconnected. He was a First Sergeant in the Army Transportation Corps and I was a Lieutenant in the Infantry.
By chance, we had an overlap in Vietnam of six months. He came up to I Corps on a pass to visit me. I was working at 1st Brigade HQ at the time as a Duty Officer in the Tactical Operations Center. I let it be known that my father, a First Sergeant, was going to visit. That caused some consternation among some of the officers there. Since I out ranked my father there were certain protocols dictated by military tradition. They asked me if I would call my father, “dad” or “First Sergeant.” Would he address me as “sir”? Would he walk to my left and one-step behind me as we walk together? Would he call me “son” or “Lieutenant”? Would he salute me?
Actually, I had never thought about it before, because in the past we always met in our homes, not on a military base. I also wanted to know how we would act. When he arrived, he was very professional in public. He addressed me as Lieutenant and walked on the left and one-step behind. He always stood when I talked to him. At the end of his visit, I dropped him off at the airport As he
was leaving, he came to attention and saluted me.
We were never close as a father and son, but as two military men, we had a special connection. It was a unique relationship-professional, and proud. Years later, I stood at his gravesite and returned the salute to a career soldier, a hero, and my father.