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Father, son reflect on Air Force careers

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Like father, like son. It can be said for father and son, Daryl and Parker Phillips, who both served in the U.S Air Force.  

Daryl served for 31 years, between 1982 and 2013. Parker served for 6 years between 2013 and 2019. And even though Veterans’ Day was this past Thursday, for those who served for decades or who served recently, the acknowledgment lives beyond a single day in November.  

“What is beautiful about Veterans Day is people can acknowledge it however they want because in this great nation we have freedoms! Each celebration is as unique as each veteran, it’s what matters to an individual,” said Parker Phillips.  

“The common bond is that Veterans leave everything we love behind, for one reason or another, and risk our lives, our relationships, and for some even their livelihood all in sacrifice of freedoms.  

“It’s with great pride that I had the opportunity to serve this great nation, and it is with fatherly pride that my son Parker followed in my footsteps and also chose to go into the military,” said Daryl Phillips.  

The father-son relationship can also be seen between Daryl and his father, who served in the armed forces as well.  

“... I think about why I joined the Air Force; I know part of it was because of his love and passion for freedom and the leadership he provided to me and the impact this had on my life. He was filled with honor, integrity and selflessness,” said Daryl.  

He also jokes that his father encouraged him to go into the Air Force specifically after asking, “Well, son, do you want to spend your time in a tent or a hotel?”  

“Of course, I said hotel. So he told me to go into the Air Force,” Daryl joked.  

Living in hotel wasn’t necessarily the case for Daryl in his three decades of service, but he did have the ability to go around the world―even if it meant staying in a tent.  

“Having traveled all over the world, working on airplanes throughout the world, setting up tent city in remote locations including Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, experiencing the massive sandstorms and triple digit temperatures in the Middle East, the one thing I am confident of is that we live in the greatest Country in the world,” Daryl said.  

Daryl began his military career as a full time technician, working on C130s, and moved on to aircraft mechanics and eventually air crew in his last years of service. Starting off as a young 20-year-old, working on such powerful machinery he admits was intimidating.  

But as many veterans will reflect, being in these intimidating situations changes you.  

When he began in the Air Force, Parker worked with AWACs. He was eventually deployed three times, where he, like his father, stayed in his own tent cities across the world.  

“Veterans carry their reputation like a badge of honor, a reputation of being invincible to dangers, both tactical & strategic, cunning, a leader, and to be a part of a camaraderie of excellence,” Parker said. “Veterans are willing to walk into dangerous scenarios with people they hardly know, but all want the same thing, just to make it back home.” Today, Parker is now studying at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.  

“He grew up so fast―in a good way,” Daryl said. “Who knows what the future brings to him...he’s gotten so far in a short time.” Daryl himself said he took up real estate after retiring from the Air Force.  

Today, he enjoys spending time at home with his family. And one thing he hopes to continue is supporting other fellow veterans, representing the next generation while his son will represent the next. “I have a forever bond with those in which I served and my son and I have a special bond as when we see Old Glory wave, we know, we lived, and we honor the sacrifices made for this great nation!” said Daryl.  

Parker adds, “Veteran’s Day to me is a time of reflection and to stop for just a moment and be grateful. Make sure you stop for just a moment to thank a Veteran - it’s a special day to let veterans know that their sacrifices were noticed, worth it and appreciated.” 

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