GREGG K. KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Lowe family -- Cody, Kiana and John -- spent a few moments together earlier this month before the two men left for Oklahoma for three months of predeployment training. CLICK FOR LARGE
Like father, like son, Guard duty calls
Two generations of the Lowe family will be deployed in Iraq
Hawaii Army National Guard Staff Sgt. John Lowe, who has already served two combat tours in Iraq, decided to stay in uniform long enough to pull a third deployment with his 21-year-old son.
"I was ready to get out, but I thought it would be great to deploy with him," the elder Lowe said last week during a phone interview from Fort Sill, Okla., where members of the Hawaii Army National Guard's Charlie Company (Assault), 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation, are going through predeployment training.
It was Lowe, 43, who recruited his son, Cody, a 2004 Kapolei High School graduate, to join the Hawaii Army National Guard.
The Lowes were among the 70 Hawaii citizen soldiers who left Hilo, where the unit is based, on April 10 for Fort Sill. There the unit will spend three months preparing for the yearlong Iraqi combat tour, probably at Logistical Support Area Anaconda near Balad.
Since arriving in Oklahoma, the Lowes as well as several other members from Hawaii have been reassigned to another company in the 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, from Minnesota.
The Lowes have been assigned to a 10-man barracks. "I tried giving him some space, but he's sleeping just across from me," the father said. He said the soldiers from Hawaii are kept busy from "dawn to dusk."
"We're up early for PT (physical training) and when we're through with the other training requirements, we still have to go the hangars to maintain our helicopters."
The unit deployed to the mainland with seven of its UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which will accompany them to Iraq.
John Lowe's first Middle East tour was in 1991 during Desert Storm. He returned to Iraq two years later serving with the 3rd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, out of Fort Hood, Texas. He has been in the military for the past 21 years.
Cody said that until his father persuaded him to join the helicopter unit at Wheeler Army Air Field, he was working as a busboy.
Now he's a helicopter mechanic, working on CH-47 Chinooks and Black Hawks for the past two years.
The younger Lowe hopes to use the Army National Guard's tuition waiver program to obtain a college degree, get commissioned as a warrant officer and fly Black Hawk helicopters.
Until then, said his father, who works full time with the Hawaii Army National Guard as a quality assurance supervisor, he'll continue to look over his son's shoulder to ensure that his work as a mechanic is done right.
"This is the best thing for him," John Lowe said before the unit left. "He can do whatever he wants to succeed."
Nearly half of the 70 soldiers in Charlie Company are from Honolulu.
The unit, which was affiliated with Alaska's 207th Aviation Regiment before it was activated, is the last National Guard or Reserve unit required to perform 18 months of active duty. It also is the last helicopter unit in the active Army or Army National Guard to be sent to Iraq.
The elder Lowe described the morale of the soldiers from Hawaii as "very, very high."
Before leaving for Iraq in August the soldiers will be given 10 days of leave beginning in late July. He said that the deployment is probably hard on his new wife, Kiana, whom he married in March.
"She had nothing to do with the military until she married me," the elder Lowe added. "She's an awesome wife and I love her very much."