Father's Day weekend surprise reunion provides rewarding experience
CAMP CASEY, South Korea-- As beads of sweat rapidly accumulated and trickled down his face, Pvt. Benjamin Rankin III, M1 Armor Crewman, 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, refused to let the humidity-plagued morning dampen his stride, June 13, 2013, at Camp Casey, South Korea. After being selected to be the subject of an on camera interview, the eager Pvt. Rankin was focused, but clueless to the fact that this was all a part of a master plan.
Just one day away from his 25th birthday, and the Army's 238th, a surprise gift shipped all the way from his hometown of Campbellsburg, Ky., was unnoticeably delivered during his interview. That gift, standing to his right, beaming with pride as he smiled ear to ear, was Benjamin Rankin Jr., his father.
"I knew nothing of this," said a startled but reserved Pvt. Rankin. "When I finally noticed someone was standing to my right I said wait? That's my dad," he said.
The two had not seen each other since Rankin III's Advanced Individual Training graduation in January 2013, at Ft. Benning, Ga., after which he left immediately to his first assigned duty station, Camp Casey, South Korea. During their last encounter, the well-calculated plan for this surprise visit had already been in motion a week prior, when the father received knowledge of his son's future destination, said Benjamin Rankin Jr., Crane Operator, from Campbellsburg, Ky.
" I had to start saving up, applied for my passport, and calculated my vacation time," said Rankin Jr., " With this being his first duty station and first job away from home, I just wanted to come out and give him a nice pat on the back," said the proud father.
After 16 years of Army Reserve service, Rankin Jr. is well aware of the importance of family support, as he, his wife Ellen, and Pvt. Rankin III's three older siblings remain proud of the youngest of the group, said Rankin Jr. Though he takes little credit for his son's decision to follow his footsteps to a Soldier's path, he expressed nothing but love and support towards the career choice.
"I think it's great that he chose to serve," said Rankin Jr. "I've always left it up to him to choose his path."
Along with good planning and organization, this stealthy operation could not be conducted without the help of his Delta Company, 1-72nd Arm. Regt. peers and superiors, as they contributed by secretly coordinating with Pvt. Rankin's father and ensuring the father and son received quality time not only for the soldier's birthday but Father's Day as well, said Sgt. Larry Werkheiser, the Soldier's first line supervisor, 1-72nd Arm. Regt.
This family oriented gesture provided by through his unit' efforts, was a direct reflection of the brotherhood and bond shared between the Tankers of 1-72nd Armor, D Co.
"I love my unit," said Rankin III, "It's good to know they would do something like this for me."
With a birthday and Father's Day to celebrate, this reunion was a timely and genuine display of affection, reflecting the unbreakable bond of a supportive father and son. As the two looked to enjoy their time together in Korea this should go down in the books as a birthday to remember, said Pvt. Rankin III.
Though Rankin Jr.'s short trip, which ends on June 16, 2013, may have cost him financially, the reward of being his son's surprise birthday present and embracing his Father's Day gift in person was priceless, he said.