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Face of Defense: Father, Son Reunite in Afghanistan

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Ross Dobelbower
American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GHAZNI, Afghanistan, Aug. 23, 2010 – Army Sgt. 1st Class Marc Seal returned here Aug. 13 from a five-day mission that began cloaked in secrecy.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Sgt. 1st Class Marc Seal, left, stands with his son, Army Pfc. Nolan Seal, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 9, 2010. Courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The mission for Seal -- an infantry squad leader assigned to the Texas National Guard’s agribusiness development team -- was known only to him and his command, and was kept secret for a special reason.

His mission was to track down and surprise his son, Army Pfc. Nolan Seal, a 4th Infantry Division infantryman, who had just arrived in Afghanistan.

Marc, a decorated combat veteran on his fifth deployment since 9/11 and his third deployment to a combat zone, has served on active duty and in the National Guard for 16 years. His son decided to carry on the family tradition last year when he joined the Army. He is assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor, out of Fort Carson, Colo.

The elder Seal found out his son would be deploying to Afghanistan early this year. He decided not to take the standard two weeks of leave that is afforded to every soldier deployed to a combat zone in hopes that he could spend some time with his son when he arrived.

As soon as his son landed in Afghanistan, the planning began.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mayo, the agribusiness development team’s command sergeant major, contacted Nolan’s battalion and worked with Army Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Kelley and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Kinloch to make the mission possible.

The trip started with Marc “bumming” a ride on a Black Hawk helicopter bound for Bagram Airfield. He then talked his way onto a flight to Kandahar Airfield, landing there before sunrise.

Kelley made sure Nolan would still be in Kandahar and available for his father’s visit. Marc was escorted to a tent where he woke up his son and received a big hug in return.

The two spent the next 36 hours talking about home, training and what lay ahead for the young soldier as he started his first combat tour. They were able to share a dinner together and enjoy some shopping at the post exchange.

Marc, whose tour ends in mid-October, said he was sad to leave his son and return to Ghazni, but was grateful for the opportunity.

“Nolan will be forever changed by his tour in Afghanistan, some good and some bad,” he said. “But no matter what, he will never be that little boy I used to know.”

Marc Seal said he’s proud of his son and also recognizes what having both husband and son in a combat zone means for his wife, Suzanne. When asked how she felt having her husband and son in Afghanistan, she said, “It’s a strange mix of pride and horror.”

 

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