Written by: Eugene Duffy
When I think about all the great experiences I had in the Army, one day stands out from the rest.
I had plenty of good moments in the Army over my twenty-four years. From a junior soldier in the Infantry to a non-commission officer in the military police. Traveling worldwide, nineteen different countries and nine different US states. I was assigned to fourteen other units and served in many distinct roles including basic combat soldiering to law enforcement management. I completed multiple schools, law enforcement work, training and combat missions, police intelligence operations, and outreach humanitarian operations. There was so much to choose from but this one meant the most to me.
I had just come back from a deployment to Iraq late the following year with the hundred and first airborne division and was reassigned so I could get a break from combat. I had served back-to-back deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan over the last seven and a half years. Mostly serving as a military police squad leader and detention facility NCO. This was going to be a good change from combat operations. I was assigned to the HHC 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention) at the United States Disciplinary Barracks. I was part of the S3 operations for the Battalion. I was working as the training land and ammunition manager. It was my first time in a staff position and a good change of venue.
It was a beautiful day at Fort Leavenworth Kansas. The date was August third, two thousand and nine. It was a good day; my number had been selected to be promoted from Staff Sergeant to Sergeant First Class. It was a big step forward in my career and would open many more opportunities for me. I was joining the ranks of senior Non-Commissioned Officers. I was hoping for a platoon sergeant position, but it was not available at my current assignment.
I needed to choose the person who was going to promote me. I was lucky enough to have my father visit from Colorado Springs for the week and it was my honor to ask him to promote me in front of my unit. I had always looked up to him and his service in the Air Force. He served twenty-six years honorably. My father was the strongest and bravest man in my life. I had always wanted him to be proud of me and the man I had become. He was a mentor and teacher for me. I learned everything from him; he made me what I am today. I knew this was an opportunity to stand before him and show him something special I had accomplished. I had made it my goal to make the grade of E7 before he did in my career. He reached the rank of master sergeant (E7 in the air force) at 15 years. I was just over 14 years; I had done it. Of all my achievements in the Army, this was the one I most wanted. It was great to be able to carry on the legacy of military service my family has had for generations.
The unit was in getting in formation and was brought to the position of attention. The commander called to the front to join him. My wife and young children were there too. My father was called up, and the commander introduced him to the unit. My dad stood by waiting for his cue to place my new rank. As I stood up in front of my peers and subordinates, I was nervous, I do not know why it was just another day, right? No, it was a pivotal moment in my military profession. The wait was over; the S1 read the orders. My father then promoted me, and I saw pride beaming in his eyes during the act. I knew I made the right choice by asking him to do this.
In the end, everyone congratulated me and wished me well. My dad was standing tall, I could tell he was enjoying this moment. The joy I felt that day was indescribable. It was one of the best days of my life.
I knew that day that my military service affected me and those who loved me as well. Every defeat and victory we have, they share it with us. “Thank you for your service” means more to me now than it used to. Whether we are up or down, they are there with us. Standing by our side. Always.