War on Terrorism

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Vermont Soldiers celebrate Mother's Day in Afghanistan

By Pfc. Roy Mercon
Vermont National Guard

(5/5/10) -- Mother's Day is quickly approaching, and for many service members at Bagram, that means flowers sent to mom online or calls home from cramped phone booths.

But for one lucky mother and son, Mother's day is nothing out of the ordinary. They get the chance to see each other on a regular basis here.

Sgt. 1st Class Maureen A. Houston and Spc. Brion W. Houston are assigned to the Vermont National Guard's 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain). They are attached to different units, but happen to work right across the street from each other.

They consider themselves quite lucky. "Being deployed and having my son here with me is surreal," said Sgt. 1st Class Houston, the non-commissioned officer in charge for personnel readiness for the 86th. "It blows my mind."

How does such a thing occur? During World War II, the five fighting Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, were killed when their U.S. Navy cruiser was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

After that, Congress considered forbidding siblings to serve together in wartime. The Army still permits family members to serve together, but they can ask to be separated.

The Houstons said separation was never an option they even considered.

"I get to see him more often than I did at home," said Sgt. 1st Class Houston. "We exercise together, we eat together occasionally, and sometimes we just play cards."

Even though her son is deployed to a combat zone, Houston understands the amount of work the Army does to ensure that every Soldier is ready to face the challenges of a combat deployment.

"I don't worry about him," said Sgt. 1st Class Houston. "I know he's been trained in the same way I've been trained. I worry more about my children back home."

It didn't seem odd to have her son follow in her footsteps by joining the National Guard. In fact, the military is a family tradition. Along with his mother, the 19-year-old Houston has had a grandfather, uncle, father, aunt, sister, and brother, who have all serve their country.

It's not all fun having a Soldier mom, however.

"Being with my mom is kind of cool, but at the same time it's not," said Spc. Houston, an infantryman, who provides administrative support for the commander and the command sergeant major of the 1-172nd Cavalry Squadron.

The only real issue with having his mother in a war zone with him is the fact that if he needs to talk to her, most of the time he gets Sgt. 1st Class Houston, a Soldier who is higher-ranking than him.

"Having her here is like home away from home, but then again, this deployment is my own experience," said Spc. Houston. "Honestly, with her being here, as my mom and as a Soldier, she doesn't treat me different than any other Soldier in the military.

"If I misbehave or act inappropriate in public, she'll correct me. And I'm sure she'll do the same for any other Soldier."

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