Like father, like son: family serendipitously deployed together

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Senior Master Sgt. Tim Shumaker grew up listening to stories of his father’s time serving as a U.S. Army paratrooper and knew at an early age he wanted to follow in his footsteps. 

After years of service in both the Army and U.S. Air Force, the Marshall, Illinois native watched as his son, Ryan, followed the family in their long line of military service. 

Now a U.S. Army captain deployed to the Combined Joint Operations Center at Bagram Airfield, Ryan works in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission as a day shift director.

Meanwhile, Tim deployed as the first sergeant at the 451st Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kandahar Airfield. The two never imagined they would end up serving together in Afghanistan.

Just a few weeks before leaving for his deployment, Tim was under the impression he would be serving in another country in the Central Command area of responsibility, but then learned he was redirected to Kandahar--just 400 miles away from his son. 
 
Although geographically separated, the Shumakers were able to briefly meet up while Tim was attending a first sergeant training at Bagram. 

“There aren’t many people in the world that can say they are deployed to the same country at the same time as their dad,” Ryan said. “It’s certainly neat to be able to say we saw each other in Afghanistan.”

After the training, Tim went back to Kandahar where he will serve the rest of his deployment. The brief visit with his son was a serendipitous morale booster for both Shumaker men. 

As an enlisted service member, Tim was proud and honored to render Ryan’s first salute when he first commissioned as an Army officer. However, as a father he has reservations about his son’s decision to become an infantryman. 

“As a parent you always worry about your children,” Tim said. “It’s especially worrisome when one of them selects the Profession of Arms as their career choice.”
While feeling concerned about Ryan’s career, Tim recalled his connection to possible dangerous situations as a military policeman in the Army and as his position as security forces in the Air Force. Though he still worries about his son, he understands his passion to serve and remains extremely proud. 

Among the many things the two men share, their desire to help their brothers and sisters in arms is the most apparent. 
 
“The greatest advantage of my job is the opportunity to lead Soldiers and interact with them on a daily basis,” said Ryan. “Being around Soldiers everyday certainly pushes you to be better at every aspect of the job.”

Ryan added he wouldn’t be as successful without the support and motivation from his father. As a first sergeant, Tim’s mission is to care for and mentor Airmen. 

With 37 years of service on his resume, the elder Shumaker is passing on as much of life’s experiences onto his Airmen and his legacy, Ryan.

 

“Do not stress over those things you have no control over,” Tim said. “When you make a bad decision, own it, learn from it and grow. Never expect more out of your subordinates and fellow Airmen than you do of yourself. Most of all, never stop challenging yourself.”

Both Shumakers suggest young service members continuously seek out mentors throughout their careers. 

Although in the same country and time zone, the Shumakers remain separated by hundreds of miles. However, they are forever connected through their father-son bond and their shared service and dedication to keeping the nation safe.