The family that serves together: Husband, wife, son all in Iraq
April 12, 2005
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — Earlier this month, Sezandra Y. Pinckney of Company B, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 3. But unlike a few past promotions over her 18-year career, she wasn’t alone.
Her husband, Sgt. Maj. Allen Pinckney Sr., 40, the 3rd Infantry Division’s operations sergeant major, came up from Camp Liberty. And her son, Pfc. Allen Pinckney Jr., 20, who also is based at Taji as a member of the 87th Corps Support Battalion, witnessed the event, held in conjunction with the brigade’s mass re-enlistment ceremony on the camp’s sprawling helipad.
Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., the 3rd Infantry Division commander, pinned the new rank onto Pinckney’s uniform.
“It’s rare that you have family members come together for a promotion at any time,” said Pinckney, a 38-year-old mother of three. “To be able to do it here in Iraq is really special. It meant a lot to us.”
Pinckney is on her third tour of Iraq, while husband and son are here for the first time. She and Allen Jr. are stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., while dad deployed from nearby Fort Stewart, Ga.
“I’m extremely happy for her,” said Allen Jr., who joined the Army in June 2003. “It’s the first time actually seeing my mom get promoted. To see the look on her face was very exciting. It meant a little bit more since we’re out here fighting the fight but still able to have time to make this happen.”
Allen Sr., a 23-year veteran originally from Charleston, S.C., said the occasion had historical significance.
“I don’t know how many husband-wife-son teams have been deployed together before, but it can’t be very many,” he said. “To be able to participate with my wife and son today on her special day, with us all in Iraq together, that’s a blessing.”
Sezandra Pinckney said the ceremony marked the second time the three have all been in one place since arriving in Iraq two months ago.
Two other sons are at different locations in the United States: a 17-year-old remains in Butler, Ala., her hometown; and a 10-year-old is staying with guardians in Anderson, Ind.
“There’s mixed emotions,” Sezandra Pinckney said. “We’re all over here in harm’s way, but we also have our two other kids back home. It’s by choice that we joined the military, but I have mixed emotions about us all being here at the same time.”
Allen Sr. said he’s pleased that his wife and oldest son are both at Taji.
“They can kind of look out for each other,” he added. “If we have to be in Iraq, it makes it better that at least two of us can be together. Plus, if I want to call my wife or son, I’m able to. Knowing I can do that is comforting.”
Allen Jr. said having both parents in Baghdad has made a tough situation more tolerable, adding they all try to see each other about once a month.
The recent visit won’t soon be forgotten, his mother added.
“I count it as a blessing,” she said. “And to see that so many people had the same emotional feelings as us was so heartfelt. I can’t express how great it was to have my husband and son here today to take part. The Army has been good to my family.”