Spelling a military family

by Sgt. Jesse Smith
U.S. Army

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- The sun was hidden behind the clouds on a dreary day in April. Kids filled the halls of the Humphreys Central Elementary School with laughter and playfulness. Teachers ushered the kids into the school's cafeteria and got them into place. The announcement was given that the event would soon begin. Contestants were seated in a line on stage and were next given instructions to one by one walk up to the microphone, say their name and spell a practice word.

When one of the boys got up, he proudly walked up to the microphone and said, "Hi, my name is Nathan Tanner".

Nathan Tanner, a 3rd grader, competed in the schools first ever spelling bee April 1 in the school's cafeteria on Camp Humphreys in South Korea.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon L. Tanner, a maintenance technician with the 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, sat in the crowd with all of the other parents anxiously awaiting his son, Nathan's, chance to stand in the spotlight.

"It's great for these kids to be able to get up there and face a big crowd like that," Brandon Tanner said. "It can really help them build confidence in themselves."

The Tanner family has been in Korea for over two years and seen many other soldiers come and go. They have faced some challenges while being here, but mostly triumph.

Brandon Tanner said when his family first arrived they had to live off post which created some difficulties with getting his son to and from school.

"Once we moved on post it made it lot easier," Brandon Tanner said. "Nathan can literally just walk to school now, so it's great."

Nathan Tanner is the older of two siblings and Brandon Tanner said he is the best big brother.

"The military has given me the attitude to be an outstanding citizen which allows me to set a better example for Nathan," Brandon Tanner said.

He said the Army has given his family more stability and a better quality of life compared to when he was a civilian. He said he might be making less money, but it is definitely worth it.

"I actually get a great amount of time off to spend with my family, and that means something to them and me," Brandon Tanner said.

He knows the Army can be difficult for his kids sometimes because they have to leave old friends and make new ones he said, but this way you make lots friends everywhere you go. He also has a lot to do here from spelling bees to sporting events.

Brandon Tanner said he is very proud of his son for going up on stage with confidence and doing his best. Brandon Tanner said he will always show support to his family in everything they do.

Nathan Tanner said he wouldn't have his family's military life any other way and maybe one day wants to join the Air Force to fulfill his dream of becoming an astronaut.

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