FORWARD OPERATING BASE WALTON, Afghanistan – When most soldiers deploy, they have to say goodbye to all the loved ones they leave behind. Two soldiers from 115th Military Police Battalion, a Maryland National Guard unit, each had one less goodbye to say.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Lester Parks Sr. and his son, Army 1st Lt. Lester Parks Jr., deployed here together with the battalion, which is attached to 1st Armored Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Sergeant Parks is the battalion logistics noncommissioned officer in charge, while his son is the military intelligence officer in charge.
The younger Parks was an enlisted soldier before he earned his commission, and for a time, they served together in the same battalion as staff sergeants.
“We were the same rank, same name, same battalion, so it was always kind of confusing,” Lieutenant Parks said.
When the younger Parks became an officer, his father rendered his first salute.
“I was proud of him,” Sergeant Parks said. “He’s exceeded my expectations.”
Although the pair is deployed together, they get to spend time together only briefly each week.
“It’s hard, because we’re both so busy and we work in different buildings,” the lieutenant said. “We try to have dinner every once in a while, or stop by just to say ‘hi.’”
But as little time as they get to spend together here, they see more of each other than they do at home, where they usually manage to meet only during drill weekends or family get-togethers. Sergeant Parks lives in Newark, Md., while his son lives in Leesburg, Va., nearly four hours away.
This is the second deployment for both, but their first together. Being deployed together brings comfort, Sergeant Parks said, knowing his son is not deployed on his own.
“Most people have to deal with being away from their families,” Lieutenant Parks said. “For us, it kind of merges. We are dealing with that family dynamic here. To me, he’s one of the guys."