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Teen Thrives Within Military Family

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. , April 23, 2010 – Unlike many of his peers who grew up in the military, Darien Crank was 12 when his father joined the Army.

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Darien Crank grabs some books out of his locker for class at Fort Campbell High School on Fort Campbell, Ky., April 15, 2010. DoD photo by Elaine Wilson

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Darien said he’s glad for the dual perspective, noting it has made him all the more appreciative of what the Army has done for his family.

His family went from living on the Jersey Shore in a one-bedroom apartment – his parents slept in the living room – to a four-bedroom house on post here.

But along with the improved standard of living, Darien also had to adapt to a lifestyle punctuated by his father’s frequent deployments. Darien’s dad, Sgt. Arthur Carter, a truck driver, is deployed to Afghanistan, his third deployment in six years.

“At first it was weird with him being home every night and then just leaving and being gone for two or three months at a time,” for training, Darien, an 18-year-old high school senior, said. “That’s the first time he’d left for that long.”

The family’s first move took them out of their hometown of Long Beach, N.J., to Hawaii, Darien recalled. It was tough to be so far from home, he said, away from his friends and extended family.

“That first move was horrible,” Darien said. “I was born and raised in New Jersey and didn’t know anything else. I was homesick for six months.”

His father left shortly after for a yearlong deployment to Iraq, compounding Darien’s difficulties.

In time, though, he made friends and began to see the silver lining of a military move, especially after a trip back to his hometown. While he felt he matured, his New Jersey friends seemed stuck in a time warp, he said.

“They were still getting in trouble,” he said. “I learned from military kids to be more mature. They were still doing the same things as when I left.”

Darien’s family then moved from Hawaii to Fort Campbell, where he has made friends and stays busy with football and track. His devotion to football has paid off with a scholarship to Tusculum College in neighboring Tennessee.

The teen said he has adjusted to his father’s absences over time, but admits he’s not as close with his dad as he used to be. Darien said his father was around to teach him how to ride his bike and swim in his early childhood. However, his father’s current deployment will cause him to miss out on Darien’s graduation, prom and sendoff to college.

Darien said he and his father connect through shared interests, such as repairing stereos and cars. But his father’s frequent absences have taken a toll on the relationship, he acknowledged.

Despite the ups and downs, Darien said he hasn’t ruled out joining the military himself at some point.

“It’s not a bad lifestyle,” he said.

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