Commentary: A salute to military fathers

Commentary by Chief Warrant Officer Dean Stoops, Kentucky Command Chief Warrant Officer

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Chief Warrant Officer Dean Stoops shares a moment with his father, retired Army Lt. Col. Dick Stoops and son, Air Force Capt. Brian Stoops after a change of responsibility ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 31, 2014. The three generations of Service members have continued a long tradition of military service in the family Stoops said. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — As this Father’s Day approaches I find myself reflecting on the fact that many of our Soldiers and Airmen will be away from home on this day dedicated to honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood. Many will not be with their families as family members desperately plan to make this a special day for the Dads in their lives. And, while many fathers around the country may not be home this weekend to celebrate with their loved ones, this is a fact of life for our military families.

For fathers in the military, our children grow up over the years with the familiar explanation from mom’s trying to explain to their young children that “Daddy is at work today”, to “Dad is drilling today”, or “Dad is in the field, TDY, or deployed”. As a career Soldier with nearly 37 years of service, I have lost count of the number of Father’s Days that I was not home to share the special activities planned by the family, and the joy and excitement that came with spending a special day with Dad.

For my clan, we learned this early as many in my family were born into the military. My father, and mother, were both born of Airmen, my sister and I were born the son and daughter of a Soldier, my children were born the children of a Soldier, and now my two grandchildren were born the daughter and son of an Airman.

We have certainly learned this unpleasant fact of military life well in my family, and now the fourth generation of little Stoops’ are learning it for their very first time as my son, Capt. Brian Stoops, USAF, is spending the first of his Father’s Days on his third deployment away from his wife, daughter age 2, and 3-month-old infant son.

What do you send a father, far away from home, that can fill the void and express the love and pride you have for him? It is a tough thing to do!   The best things are those from the heart, for those will not fade with aging memories.

Despite the long and frequent absences, I learned a lot from my father, and both my Grand-fathers. I learned that your word is your bond! I learned that service to others is more rewarding than selfish indulgences! I learned that your character is defined by what you do, not what you say you will do! And, I learned that although my Dad was frequently missed, a father’s love and presence never fades!

Dedicated to all the Super Trooper fathers out there serving our Country, our Communities, and our Commonwealth this Father’s Day, June 15, 2014 and each and every day.

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