Weatherford Democrat

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September 13, 2012

A deeper bond

Father, son share more than just military memories

WEATHERFORD — While it’s not uncommon for children to work under their parents, serving under your father’s unit in the National Guard is something that rarely comes along.

Vick and Cody Graham share the bond of a military family, but experienced it on a deeper level when the younger Graham joined his father’s unit in 1999.

“He was my 1st Sgt. from ‘99 until 2003, when he got out,” Cody Graham said. “It was pretty fun having my dad as my boss.”

Graham stated his dad’s military career as one of the major reasons he joined the National Guard at the age of 18 in 2000.

He spent nine years in the service, serving as checkpoint security at the DFW airport for several years following the Sept. 11 attacks. In January of 2005, he was deployed to Iraq, where he served as battalion officer, and returned stateside in December of 2008.

“I figured it was always his choice,” Vick Graham, who has another son, Johnny, said. “They’ve been around [the military] all their lives.”

Graham joined the Army in May of 1974, influenced by his friends at Burleson High School.

He did his basic training in Missouri and served in the military for almost 28 years, traveling to various locations across Europe and Africa.

The day after his 19th birthday, Graham became a tank commander.

“There were four of us in the tank, and I was the top one,” he said. “The others were 18 and 17 years old.”

In 1978, Graham returned home for a year, then went back in 1978 with the National Guard.

“One of the hardest things was being away from family,” he said. “Back then, we wrote letters, or made calls at the MARS station. The only thing about that was the operator had to switch from one side to the other, like on a walkie-talkie.

“One time, when I was talking with my mother, she kept forgetting to say ‘Roger’ so the operator could switch back over.”

Both Grahams look back on their careers with pride, agreeing that they’d do it all over again if they had the chance.

“It affects people in different ways,” Vick Graham said. “The way I was raised, it was like I had a job to do. If you’ve got a mission, you do your mission.

“You take care of your men and they’ll take care of you.”

While his time in the Guard brings back many memories, he said not all of them were pleasant.

“I remember getting in trouble while we were in Africa, from my Lt.,” he said. “It was a sad time, when the people could afford to buy guns and weapons but couldn’t afford to feed the kids.”

In an act of compassion, Graham took some of his own food supplies and dispersed them to some of the children.

“Seeing the kids like that was a bad thing, but there were a lot of good things I got to experience as well,” he said.

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