Photo Credit: Egdanis Torres Sierra/U.S. NAVY
Army CW3 Carl B. TenBrink and his son Air Force Senior Airman Benjamin haven’t had the opportunity to catch up much because they’ve been deployed and away from family for years.
According to Stars & Stripes, Carl has been stationed since May at NATO headquarters in Kabul, where he works as the personal security agent for Maj. Gen. Richard Kaiser, the commander of Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan. Benjamin, 23, provides logistical support at Bagram Air Field and has been there since late January.
The TenBrinks is a family used to deployments. The family has served the country through four generations. Carl tells Stars & Stripes being able to visit with his son helps makes separation easier to handle.
“Our jobs have allowed us to see each other from time to time — probably about once a month,” said Carl, 41, at a barbecue that followed a recent change-of-command ceremony at NATO headquarters in Kabul that his son also attended.
“Before Benjamin and I met up in February, it had been two years since I had seen him because I was stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, and he was at Hill Air Force Base in Utah,” Carl tells Stars & Stripes. “So it was good to catch up — a little emotional, not only to see him after two years but to see him here in Afghanistan.”
Benjamin is on his first deployment and while he knew his father would also be in Afghanistan, he didn’t think they would get to spend time together.
“This is my first deployment, so I didn’t really think: ‘Oh, I’ll have a bunch of free time and we’ll get to hang out and be social,’” Benjamin tells Stars & Stripes.
When Benjamin joined the military he followed in the footsteps of his father, his grandfather and great-grandfather.
Sgt. Burton TenBrink Sr. served in World War II as a tank mechanic. His son, 1st Lt. Burton TenBrink Jr., was in the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. Over the years, generations of TenBrinks have passed down their military memories, but this year marks the first time that two TenBrinks have been able to make those memories together.
“Everyone thinks it’s cool,” Benjamin told Stars & Stripes when describing how fellow servicemembers at Bagram react when they hear of his situation. “I work for the command chief, and he thinks it’s the coolest thing ever.”
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