Father, son meet in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Capt. David Faggard
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
There's a saying that a parent would do anything for his children, and that even includes deploying to war.

During the "Year of the Air Force Family," Tech. Sgt. Thomas Leaman, an Air Force Reservist from the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., decided he needed to be with his son -- in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Leaman, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Mobility Support Equipment shop could only think about one thing as his son, Army Spc. Kevin Leaman, a vehicle maintainer with the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo., disembarked the massive C-17 Globemaster III -- they'd get "quality time" to spend together.

The deployment has given us quality time to talk; that's probably been the best thing about this deployment," said Sergeant Leaman reflecting on an evening where the two sat up all night playing cards and drinking coffee together. "He's grown up a lot and it's nice to have the father-son time."

The two have seen each other a few times off and on since being deployed to Afghanistan, as Specialist Leaman is stationed at a remote outpost near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, some 75 miles away.

But as any military family knows, the loved ones deployed are only half the story. At the Leaman home in Colorado, there's strong support from a spouse who worries about her husband and son, but also provides support and leadership to those around her.

Melissa Leaman is a typical Air Force spouse, one who supports the family, but also one who has an internal drive of her own to make great things happen, according to her husband, Sergeant Leaman.

"She's graduating tomorrow," said Sergeant Leaman referring to her wife's graduation from cosmetology school, a life-long goal of hers. "She's dedicated and driven; she holds the family together."

"It's very stressful with one, but with both deployed, it's even more stressful," said Mrs. Leaman on the morning of her graduation. "You worry about them all the time but I hear from them and write letters to them all the time. We have to keep going."

One advantage of being deployed together is the built-in mechanism that allows them to discuss the stresses of war; some of the things you don't call home about.

"It's tough you know?" said Sergeant Leaman. When there's an attack on a remote outpost in the news, the elder Leaman needs to find out if it's his son's base. But once they discuss things like attacks, the two find themselves putting each other at ease, according to the father. And the two find the time to "discuss a lot of stressful things," with each other.

Military service is common in this family. With a dad and son serving in Afghanistan and an additional daughter considering joining Air Force ROTC, another son looking for an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a loving wife who keeps it all together, Mrs. Leaman said she's proud of her family's sacrifice and service.

"I support them -- my children, in what they want to do," said Mrs. Leaman referring to her two children not in the military, but considering the Air Force. "I will stand by them in what they want to do...my youngest has a dream to take a picture of himself, his brother and his father, all in uniform together."

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz designated July 2009 to July 2010 as "Year of the Air Force Family."

In a July 17 memorandum, the leaders explained that the Air Force family is dynamic and diverse, made up of active duty, Reserve and Guard component members; officer and enlisted, civilians, spouses and children and that it also extends to parents, friends and community partners who support Airmen.

Mrs. Leaman wanted her family to know: "I am very proud of them and I love them so much."

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