2ID soldiers at Camp Humphreys: Fathers and Sons, Brothers in Arms

Photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs
Photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs

2ID soldiers at Camp Humphreys: Fathers and Sons, Brothers in Arms

by Staff Sgt. Cody Harding
2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – It’s often said the Army is a ‘small world’, despite hundreds of thousands of personnel stationed in the United States and across the globe. Nothing proves this point more than the unique stories of Fathers and Sons serving in the same organization, and the challenges and silver linings that come with such a rare opportunity.

The average day for Spc. Matthew Carns looks much the same as any other for an AH-64 Apache helicopter avionics specialist on Camp Humphreys. He wakes up to do his physical fitness training, then prepares himself for a day of maintaining attack aircraft as part of the 4th General Support Aviation Battalion, 2nd Air Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division.

“Being an avionics specialist is like having three jobs at once, since you deal with the avionics and the weapons systems,” Matthew Carns said. “You come in to work every day and work on a puzzle, because the aircraft is broken in different ways. I never have the same issue, so it’s always a constant challenge to learn more. It’s definitely exciting. If it’s not exciting then you chose the wrong job.”

As Matthew Carns gets down to the task of maintaining and repairing a multi-million dollar piece of combat technology, across the installation another Carns is finishing business of a different sort. Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Carns, the 2nd Infantry Division senior enlisted advisor, is finishing up a meeting with high-level staff about the Division’s steps to maintain their ability to ‘fight tonight’ on the Korean Peninsula. For Shawn Carns, the proudest moment of his time in the military was when Matthew told him about joining the military.

“I think it’s a proud moment for any father, regardless of what profession you are in,” Shawn Carns said. “When your son comes to you and says ‘I want to follow in your footsteps’, what a moment that is. Especially in the military, as the military is not easy.”

For Matthew Carns, he sees his job as a way to make a name for himself, though he’s still glad to visit his family while stationed in Korea.

“Once they get to know me, they know I am a hard worker, so they don’t focus on who my dad is, and more on who I am,” Matthew Carns said. “It’s a pretty good feeling, not having to rely on his name.”
The Carns family respects one another’s space, with Matthew living in the barracks separate from his family. But there are still silver linings to having your family stationed at the same post, as they both shared.

“This is the first time in six years that I’ve been able to consistently see them,” Matthew Carns said.

“My wife and I have him over at the house every once in a while, he comes over to have dinner,” Shawn Carns said. “So we can enjoy our time together outside the military, as a father and son rather than CSM Carns and Spc. Carns.”

In the same division, the logistics section tracks and moves goods that keep the units running. Food Service sections ensure dining facilities on Camps Casey and Humphreys have what they need to feed their Soldiers. For Sgt. Maj. Eric Bonner, the logistics senior enlisted advisor for the 2nd Infantry Division, it’s a world of numbers and data translated to real-world effects for Soldiers on ground. His son, Spc. Dadriean Bonner, a food service technician with the 581st Quartermaster Field Feeding Company, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Division Sustainment Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, has been with him during the three tours he has spent in Korea, though this tour is Dadriean Bonner’s first tour as a U.S. Army Soldier.

“Initially, my son didn’t have the military on his list. So, after some conversations and after a while, he bought in and made the huge step,” Eric Bonner said, “Every day is something special, not just because he’s here, but he’s serving his country.”

“It’s definitely a blessing to know that if I’m having trouble with my career and have a question, I can go to him and he always has what I need every time,” said Dadriean Bonner. “He’s always there to provide emotional support so I can be the best at all times.”
For other Fathers and Sons in the same unit, the Bonner Family offers a bit of advice when it comes to navigating the difference in duty between Family and the unit.

“I would say, don’t immediately try to interfere. If he has issues or challenges, let his leadership and first-line supervisors work it out,” Eric Bonner said. “I can’t jump in to everything if things don’t go the way they expect, so I have to step back a bit as a leader. As a father, if the situation is serious I can have a talk with him. As a leader, I have to let his leadership deal with those challenges, and they do.”

“Before you’re quick to go to your parent for anything, try to resolve the issue at the lowest level, especially if they are a senior noncommissioned officer,” said Dadriean Bonner. “It’s good to ask for help, but remember they have their own duties as well. As a person who is looking to become an NCO, you need to learn how to work it out at your level before you go up.”

Photo Caption:
Spc. Dadriean Bonner, a food service technician with the 581st Quartermaster Field Feeding Company, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Division Sustainment Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division, takes a break with his father, Sgt. Maj. Eric Bonner, the 2nd Infantry Division’s logistics senior enlisted advisor, outside the 2ID Headquarters at Freeman Hall, Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea. Working in the same division has its unique challenges and opportunities, but the father and son set clear boundaries for one another between their family and professional lives.

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