As April is designated as the “Month of the Military Child”, we felt we should draw attention to the roles that the children of military personnel play. The recognition is sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy. It is regarded as a time to recognize military families for the sacrifices and challenges each face and overcome.
No family epitomizes these sacrifices quite like the family of Vince Farrell.
Farrell, a Paralegal Specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District, has traced his military background all the way to his seventh great grandfather, Sgt. Simon Rufner, II, who fought in the American Revolution. The lineage also includes Farrell’s 3rd great grandfather, Sgt. John Brown, who was in the Union Army, his great-grandfather, Col. James Martin, served in WWII and ultimately retired from the U.S. Army and his maternal grandfather, 1Lt. Russell Parkinson, who served in the Air Force, and his paternal grandfather, Spec/4 Vincent Farrell, Jr., in the U.S. Army, both in the 1950s.
Farrell also had two aunts and three uncles who all served in the U.S. Army. His father, 1sg. Vincent Farrell, III, served over 30 years with the U.S. Army and retired in 2018.
Having been raised as a self-proclaimed “Army Brat” – Farrell said there was never a time when he didn’t want to grow up and join the United States Army.
Growing up with a father on active duty often came with extended periods of being apart as Farrell’s father served tours in Iraq and later Afghanistan. Moving every few years from duty station to duty station was exciting for the youngster. He said, “It was an opportunity my sister and I looked forward to as we would be able to explore new areas, experience new cultures and make new friends. We had the opportunity to live across the country and travel constantly with our parents, but never had any roots set like many of our friends.”
Frequent moving made making new friends come easily and saying goodbyes was never a terrible thing as many times the same friends would end up at the same duty stations.
However, with his father frequently deployed, Farrell said it was hard to have a close relationship with him as he got into junior high and high school years. He recalls times he would look into the bleachers at football or basketball games and only see his mom, whereas many of the other kids had both parents present. He is quick to point out that his father was always happy to hear how he was doing at sporting events, academics, or as a member of the Boy Scouts. During his deployments, their communication was mainly through email, letters and the rare phone call.
Farrell said, “Our time together was cherished, but it seemed that it was never enough before he was sent again out of state to a school or out of country on another deployment. But I was lucky enough to have a mother that absolutely loves sports and friends’ parents that would fill in on Boy Scout camping trips and things like that.”
For all that Farrell felt like his father was missing, he knew the importance of his father’s duties and appreciated his reasons for serving.
After graduating high school, Farrell made a brief attempt at college. He had always known his true calling and officially became a member of the United States Army. Because of the way of life modeled by his own parents, he had no problem adapting to the military lifestyle. He never really knew any other way.
Farrell’s father was again deployed to Afghanistan and he missed his son’s graduation from basic combat training in 2010.
In 2013, when Farrell was promoted to the rank of corporal, his father was yet again deployed.
In an almost ceremonious passing of the torch, Farrell’s father’s career finally began winding down just as his son’s career was taking off and the personal sacrifices continued.
In 2014, while stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Farrell’s father was in Fort Riley, Kansas, but was able to read his son’s promotion orders to sergeants over a video teleconference. After a lifetime of missing his son’s important milestones, the video conference was one of the most memorable moments in the men’s lives.
Farrell recalled, “That was one of the highlights of my military career as he is someone I have always emulated and wanted to share in my successes as he was unable to be at so many major life moments.”
Farrell was honorably discharged in 2017. The father and son were able to spend a few months together before he deployed yet again. “In 2018, I was able to attend his retirement ceremony with my mother and it finally seemed that such a major chapter in our family’s life was finally closing.”
In 2018, Farrell married a fellow military child, Ariel Davila. And in true military child fashion, their now 12-year-old son, Vincent Farrell, V, looks forward to not only carrying on the tradition of the Farrell name, but continuing the longer tradition of service to our nation.