A Father's Day Salute: These Military Dads Inspired a Legacy of Service

A Father's Day Salute: These Military Dads Inspired a Legacy of Service
Photo compilation by John Harmon / MOAA

It might be a coincidence that the Army's birthday and Father's Day fall in the same month. But it's no coincidence these three Army officers followed in the footsteps of their officer fathers. Each felt a sense of service fostered through their upbringing, and they were inspired by their father's example to join the all-volunteer force.

Lt. Col. Brian Supko is an active duty Army aviation officer and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He currently serves as a battalion commander at Fort Campbell, Ky. Prior to this assignment, Supko served at several installations, including Fort Rucker, Ala.; Germany; and Fort Bragg, N.C. His father, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., served more than 30 years as a Marine Corps officer.

Capt. Jared Klajnbart completed eight years of active duty service as an Army aviation officer after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute. His last duty assignment was in 2017 as an AH-64D Apache helicopter troop commander in the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Carson, Colo. Prior to this assignment, Klajnbart served at several installations, including Fort Rucker, Ala., and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. Currently, he is a senior manager for Stryker Corp. His father served 30 years in the military, six years as an Air Force medic, and 24 years as an Army orthopedic surgeon. He continues to serve as a civilian orthopedic surgeon at Fort Carson.

Maj. Allie Weiskopf is an active duty public affairs officer for the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Prior to this assignment, she served at several installations, including Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Stewart, Ga.; and the Pentagon. Her father served more than 26 years as a public affairs officer, including a tour in Vietnam, retiring out of the Military District of Washington.

Each officer answered three questions about their father's legacy of service.

How did your father's time in service affect your decision to join the military?

Supko: I was always impressed at the sense of family and camaraderie that I saw whenever I attended any military unit functions with him. Additionally, I always knew that while we weren't going to be rich, we were never going to be fiscally challenged as a family, which I always found admirable about the military.

Klajnbart: I noticed the great amount of respect people have for the military service, the education available to servicemembers, and how you can provide for your family. I saw my father sacrifice so much, yet be completely fulfilled for a great cause. I wanted to feel that same sense of fulfillment to deploy, fight, and come home.

Weiskopf: I grew up admiring his passion for communicating on behalf of the Army and wanted to follow in his footsteps. As a child, I learned that punishment was just business; being in trouble didn't influence my father's feelings towards me.

Are there any distinct memories you have from growing up in a military family?

Supko: My father served in the military throughout my life until I was in college, when he retired.
I remember getting the opportunity to ride across the Sinai Desert in a jeep with my father when we were stationed in Israel, when I was 5 years old. That experience [was] one of the most unique opportunities afforded to me through his military career.

Another distinct memory I have is tied to his deployment to Kuwait and Iraq in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He left just prior to the first day of my freshman year in high school and was gone for almost the entirety of the school year. It was a terrifying nine months, having him gone while the entire war effort was broadcast over television. He returned home from this deployment prior to the end of the baseball season and was able to attend the last couple games. I remember the incredible excitement and pride I felt as he was able to see me play for the first time in my high school career.

Klajnbart: I will never forget living on Fort Irwin [Calif.], home of the Army's National Training Center, during my middle school years. Families would host social block parties where kids would run through the streets. The houses were lined with Humvees, while all of the officers would carry their radios and talk about the current training rotation. I looked up to these men and their selfless service, their tough bravado, and their great passion for their families and their country as something I wanted to carry on.

Weiskopf: My dad retired when I was 10 years old, but I remember watching him lace up his combat boots before going to work, and he still remains steadfast in his running regiment. My dad remains a very active veteran supporting the military community. He retired, again, from the Fisher House Foundation. He also sits on the board of the Semper Fi Fund. Additionally, he volunteers for the Honor Flight of Savannah and at the Savannah USO.

What message would you give your children if they were interested in joining the service to follow the generations that came before them?

Supko: I have two sons, a 5- and a 3-year-old. The message I plan to convey to them - and my attitude toward any type of civil service - will be one of support and encouragement, but not one of expectation or requirement. Military service has been a part of my family for multiple generations, and it is certainly something I am proud of, but it is not something I plan to levy on my children as a requirement.

Klajnbart: I have twin boys who are 3? years old. I tell them there is no greater honor than to fight for your country and to serve the nation with the same grit and passion that has been displayed by your father, grandfather, and all the other men and women who sacrificed so much over many years of conflicts.

Weiskopf: I married a retired Marine who flew the same helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan that his dad flew in Vietnam, so service is a family tradition. I have two boys, ages 3 and 1, so the hope is that they follow in the family tradition. One could be a third-generation Army public affairs officer, and the other a third-generation Marine helicopter pilot.

Christine “C.C.” Gallagher is a freelance writer based at Fort Irwin, Calif. This article first appeared in the June 2018 issue of Military Officer.