‘Devil’ brigade NCO mentors son during Korean deployment
CAMP HOVEY, Republic of Korea ¬– Deployments can be pretty hard on families. Long periods of time away from loved ones is one of the many hardships military families have to cope with. However, for two Soldiers, being deployed has become an excellent opportunity to reconnect and pass on valuable life lessons.
For Staff Sgt. Stephen Littel, the master gunner for the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, his recent deployment to South Korea came with the unexpected benefit of being deployed to the same country his son.
Littel’s son, Spc. Malakki Jewell, a gunner for multi-launch rocket systems with 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment, arrived in South Korea just about a week before his father did. Since then, the two Soldiers have been spending much of their free time together, having dinner, hitting the gym and Littel even began preparing his son to become a noncommissioned officer.
“Dad being here has been a big help,” Jewell, a native of Spokane, Washington, said. “His help in studying for the board has helped me to become more confident. And in the gym, I’ve noticed a lot more results.”
This is Jewell’s second rotation to South Korea, and having his father here has made this experience a little bit different.
“I think it’s pretty cool being gone with my dad,” Jewell said. “I just came back here from being here for a year and it’s different having your dad here, someone that you can be around and talk to all the time.”
Littel’s unit is based in Fort Riley, Kansas and Jewell’s unit is based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and this has been the first time the two have had the opportunity to spend time together professionally.
“I was at (the National Training Center) when he left for basic training and then I was in Kuwait and Iraq,” Littel, a native of Philadelphia said. “This is the first time we’ve actually crossed paths.”
Littel said now that he’s “around him in a military environment, I can show him the ropes from a senior point of view.”
But learning about being an NCO and working out in the gym isn’t the only thing the two have been occupying their time with while deployed to the Korean peninsula.
“Sometimes when I find myself over on (Camp) Casey, I get to have lunch with him,” Littel said. “Normally, on the weekends we get to hang out and do stuff. He can show me around since he’s already been here before.”
However, the difference in rank has made little impact on their relationship while deployed.
“I really don’t see him during work, so he’s pretty much the same,” Jewell said. “He’s not really any different.”
Even though Jewell doesn’t see his father any differently, Littel’s guidance and mentorship has paid off. Jewell will soon attend his battalion’s Soldier of the month board, where he will compete against other junior enlisted Soldiers for the chance to be named Soldier of the Month. The next step is for Jewell to attend the promotion board, the next step in his road to becoming an NCO.
Littel hopes the example he sets for his son will help Jewell learn how to become an excellent leader, work hard, excel at his job and apply himself.
“I try to show him the right way to do things and make sure he’s ready to be an NCO and, as an NCO, know what is expected of him,” Littel said.