Weatherford Democrat

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August 3, 2012

Passing down military tradition from father to son

PARKER COUNTY — The bond between father and son is something that can’t be unmatched.

For the Cullens, that bond has extended past childhood and adolescence into their careers in the military.

Chris Cullen first enlisted when he was still in high school in Arizona.

After boot camp in Missouri, he was sent to Korea, where he spent a year in the Army as an intelligence analyst in the 2nd Infantry Division.

“I spent three years active duty and three years inactive duty,” he said.

He spent a year and a half in Fort Hood to work for the 312th military intelligence batallion in the 1st Calvary Division, before moving to Stephenville, where he grew up.

But the Army wasn’t the elder Cullen’s only opportunity, as he turned down several college scholarships, including one to Northern Arizona University and one to the University of Arizona Tucson.

After talking to an actor from the Grizzly Adams show, which was filmed in California, the elder Cullen was encouraged to join the Army as a way to do his time and get help in pursuing his education.

“What they didn’t tell me was that by the time I got out, my life was already gone,” he said. “I didn’t end up going back to school until I was 38.”

Cullen’s journey inspired his son, Jordan, to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I decided to join the Army my senior year of high school because I wanted to make a life for myself,” Jordan Cullen said.

Like his father, Jordan also had several scholarships waiting but delayed an immediate college education to pursue the Army.

“In his words, ‘If it was good enough for my Pops, it was good enough for me,’” Chris Cullen said.

Jordan, now 24, joined the Army in October of 2004 and was shipped to basic training a little less than a year later.

He currently serves as a staff sergeant in Kuwait.

“I feel that my father’s service in the Army helps him greatly to understand what it is that I go through,” he said. “He, over any of my other family members, knows the stress that can come about from being in the Army and he also understands why I love my job so much.”

The Cullen family is no stranger to the experiences of the Armed Forces — Chris’ grandfather served in the Air Force, along with two of his uncles, and his stepfather and several cousins served in the Marines.

But while the family familiarity was there, the transition from father to son was a little different.

“On one hand, I want him to do what he wants to do to be happy and I’m certainly proud of him,” Chris Cullen said. “Every once in awhile, it does get a little scary, but he understands what he wants to do and I have faith in God to keep him safe.

“I’m as proud as any father can be.”

Cullen said that encouragement is important in military families, because his experience provided him with opportunities that he otherwise never would’ve gotten to do.

“You do a lot of growing up [in the service] but its not necessarily something you have to make into a career,” he said. “My grandfather went in as a military policeman and came out and became a policeman.

“But my uncle Carlisle got out in Thailand and lived there another 10 to 12 years after he got out.”

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