By Staff Sgt. Erin Johns
The orange sun slowly slipped down the horizon while Sgt. 1st Class Teddy Waggoner eagerly anticipated his son, Sgt. Cole Waggoner’s, arrival at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
The pair hadn’t seen each other in months, due to their respective deployments overseas.
Teddy, 50, serves in the signal branch with the 38th Infantry Division (with 17 of his 22 years being with the Indiana National Guard) and Cole, 27, provides signal intelligence expertise in the 101st Airborne Division.
Cole was deployed to Iraq for nine months and was traveling to Camp Airfjan – where his dad just happened to be – on his way back home.
Around midnight, after hours of waiting, Teddy got a text from his son saying he was almost there. When Cole’s bus pulled up to the arrival area on base and soldiers began de-boarding, it didn’t take the father-son duo long to find each other among the crowd.
“It’s good to see you,” Teddy said, as he hugged his son and a few battle buddies cheered and clapped.
“Only six hours late,” Cole said, as he adjusted his M-4 rifle with a smile.
A Bond of Service and a History of Connection at the USO
In addition to sharing their last name, Teddy and Cole have a lot of in common. Both chose a career in the Army and share a similar set of moral values, like faith and investing in family.
During their short visit together, attended religious services, visited the USO, played a little music together in the center’s music room and chatted about the past.
Cole grew up with his father deploying and remembers receiving calls from a room with telephone service at the USO.
“Growing up with him deploying, using a room much like this to call us once a week, it’s surreal that we can talk so regularly,” Cole said while sitting in USO telephone room himself.
“But as we’ve found, electronic media, social media, whatever aren’t a replacement for seeing families.”
Two Army Careers, Two Army Leaders
Cole explained that seeing his father happy in his military service encouraged him to join, but there was never any pressure from Teddy.
“Yes, I am a sergeant first class, and yes, he’s an E5, but I am a father, and he’s my son,” Teddy said, noting that he would have been proud of his son if he had chosen a civilian career.
Cole, who participated in sports growing up and ran with his dad two or three times per week, said that he often spoke with his dad about the military during these workouts. One day, while the pair was running uphill, Teddy even remembered speaking with Cole about the Noncommissioned Officer (NDO) Creed, to prepare him for the day that his son may be a noncommissioned officer.
“The important part of the NCO creed is how someone applies it to being a noncommissioned officer,” Teddy said, reflecting on the conversation.
“It’s easy to know who you don’t want to be like than to know what NCO you want to be.”
Now, both father and son are becoming the types of leaders they want to be: One, the father, a few months in his deployment, but at the tail end of his career. The other, the son, at the tail end of his deployment, but at the beginning of life in the Army.
-This story originally appeared on whs.mil. It has been edited for USO.org.
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