Army Father Joins Navy Son on Dragon Cruise

Army Lt. Col. Wes Hoyt pins his son, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert Hoyt, with the enlisted surface warfare badge, May 2, 2014.

VICENZA, Italy – Some sons follow the footsteps of their fathers. Others sons make adjustments, following the intent of their father.

Army Lt. Col. Wes Hoyt and his son, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Robert D. Hoyt, share careers in the military, and both Hoyts share enlistment as their entry into the military.

The senior Hoyt, chief of medical operations for the U.S. Army Africa surgeon’s office, enlisted as a private in the Army nearly 30 years ago.

Recently, the two spent time together on the USS Chosin, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser. The younger Hoyt is a sonar technician on the ship, and he took the opportunity to invite his father on an 11-day voyage known as a Dragon Cruise. The cruise took place between Guam and Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.

Colonel Hoyt described his experience at sea as a unique event in his life.

“The Dragon Cruise was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I’m thankful to U.S. Navy Capt. Patrick Kelly and the crew of the USS Chosin for allowing us to participate and embrace us as new members of their team.”

As a career Army officer, Hoyt’s experience on his son’s ship was a paradigm shift in his military experience.

“Their structure, staffing and operations are geared towards the successful functioning of the ship as a single weapon system, with many parts supporting the whole,” he explained. “This is significantly different than the way we approach it in the Army, where we are soldier-centric and man multiple weapon systems, with fewer personnel in each, over a distributed environment.”

Hoyt said he observed that both services have similar training regimens. The Army and Navy share the common practice of running battle drills to ensure quick reactions and responses to any number of situations.

“The Chosin and its crew are impressive,” he said. “Much like soldiers, sailors take part in cross-training duties other than their primary job. And sailors maintain a balance in all they do. They have a primary job or duty assignment, and they also must sleep.” Sailors also perform other duties needed on the ship, including working in the kitchen, cleaning and repairing the ship, training on weapons systems, firefighting, navigation, and port operations.

The father and son shared a bonding experience as a result of the cruise.

“Observing my son perform his leadership duties during multiple occasions was a realization that he is grown-up,” the elder Hoyt said. “And participating in an award ceremony and pinning the enlisted surface warfare pin on my son and some of his shipmates will be a memory that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Petty Officer Hoyt said his home life influenced his work ethic and his ambitions for his Navy career.

“My dad works hard and is dedicated to his job. I remember days where we would wait on him for dinner so we can have it as a family, because he was still at work finishing up some paperwork or a meeting,” he said. “I learned that it doesn't hurt to spend a few extra minutes to complete something and get it done right the first time. It takes patience and attention to detail.

“In my eyes,” he continued, “my father is the embodiment what it means to be in the military -- the hard work, dedication and perseverance to get through the tough times. He's the reason why I joined. After almost 30 years in the service, I hope to be as far as he was in my career.”

The petty officer also plans to follow in his father’s footsteps by seeking a commission. “I’m putting together my packet to become a Navy officer,” he said.

Hoyt said his son’s work ethic will serve him well.

“I think he will make a tremendous commissioned officer. He has a positive work ethic,” he said. “He is adept at problem solving and is meticulous in his attention to detail. After sailing with him on his ship and watching him in his environment, I can vouch for his caring, selfless attitude towards his fellow sailors and those he leads.”

The elder Hoyt and his wife, Kim, recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They have five children, and recently one of their sons also chose to follow his father’s footsteps by enlisting in the Army.

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