Saturday, June 18, 2011

Citizen-Soldiers sacrifice Father’s Day to fight floods

On any given day, it’s easy to find a dad willing to do without for the sake of their Family. Father’s Day is a time to pause and thank dads everywhere for what they do all year long.

This Father’s Day there are some dads in northwest Missouri who are spending their special day on flood duty with the Missouri Army National Guard.

Citizen-Soldiers with the 1-129th Field Artillery headquartered in Maryville have been tapped to assist the flood fight along the Missouri River. A tactical operations center run out of the Maryville armory requires many dads to be away from home—even on Father’s Day.

Though being separated from Family is not always easy, it is not unfamiliar territory when serving in the military.

During his 14-year military career, Lt. Joshua Wilmes, of Maryville, said he has only been able to be with his three children for a handful of Father’s Days.

In 2007, while deployed to Afghanistan, Wilmes even missed the birth of his youngest child, Tucker, while serving his country. It was nearly a month before he saw his first photo of his only son and two months before he was able to meet him in person.

“Sometimes you have to make sacrifices,” said Wilmes. “It’s not a huge sacrifice that you have to make, it’s a small sacrifice, but some people are more willing to make those sacrifices than others. It’s not a big deal, that’s just how it is.”

Wilmes said that his wife, Rachelle, and children miss him when he’s gone, but they adjust to it.

“She [Rachelle] probably has the hardest job out of anyone to be honest with you,” said Wilmes. “My job is easy. She takes care of everything so I don’t have to have any distractions about what’s going on at home and I can focus on the mission.”

Another father of three, Staff Sgt. Allen Godsey, has also given up a lot as a father during his 13 years of service. He too was unable to be at the birth of his first child in 2004 while deployed on a stateside mission in Fort Lewis, Wa.

A few days after his son, Gage, was born, Godsey was able to spend a couple days with him before returning to his mission. He did not get to see Gage again for three months.

“That was really tough,” said Godsey.

When it is all said and done, Godsey said it is still worth it to service his country.

“There’s a since of satisfaction that you’re doing some good,” said Godsey. “When you put on the uniform you have a sense of pride.”

Since he lives in Maryville, Godsey does hope to be able to see his Family sometime on Father’s Day.

Another fellow artilleryman, Sgt. 1st Class Troy Shipley of Platte City, will be separated from his two children. Shipley did have the opportunity earlier in the week to spend time with his Family, but will not be able to see them on Father’s Day.

“I was supposed to be on vacation all this week,” said Shipley as a matter of fact and without complaint.

Even if such natural disasters don’t happen during a holiday, it’s safe to say those called up for duty, fathers or not, had other plans. Routinely, Guardsmen receive little notice and asked to drop what they are doing to help when needed staying true to their motto, always ready, always there.

Wilmes drills with Battery B, 1-129th FA in Chillicothe, and Godsey and Shipley drill with Headquarters, Headquarters Batallion, 1-129th FA in Maryville.

This is the fifth state emergency mission of the year. It is also the second flood mission the Missouri National Guard has taken on in 2011 and the seventh flood response since 2007.

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