October 7th, 2006 05:36 EST
Father passes flag to daughter in Iraq
LACKLAND AFB, Texas -- Traditions run deep in the military, and for this father and daughter, traditions are what brought them together in Iraq.
Col. Steven Dreyer, 4th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Group commander, at Camp Victory, Iraq, reunited with his youngest daughter, 1st Lt. Kathrine Dreyer, 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Balad AB, Iraq.
The visit marked not only the end of Colonel Dreyer's final deployment, but also the beginning of Lieutenant Dreyer's first deployment. During the visit, the colonel presented his daughter with the family's American flag.
"This flag symbolizes our family's dedication to serving in the military," said the colonel, who enlisted in the Marines in 1970. "I have carried this flag during my deployments over the years; my oldest daughter, SSgt. Kristine Dreyer, carried it to Iraq in 2003, and now my youngest daughter is stepping up to continue the tradition."
The flag, originally flown in front of the home of Colonel Dreyer's father, a retired Army WWII and Vietnam veteran, has accompanied the colonel on every deployment.
"Originally, I carried it as an identification measure in case my aircraft were to crash in foreign territory," said the MH-53 Pavelow and HH-60 Pavehawk pilot. "Now, it has turned into a family heirloom. Maybe in 20 years, my now 4-year-old grandson will be accepting this flag from his mother or aunt during his first deployment."
From Libya to Bosnia from Romania to Africa, the 2-by-3 feet flag was always carried in either the colonel's flak vest or flight suit pocket.
"I noticed every time he packed his bags for a TDY or deployment, there was always a little triangle on top of the bag," said Solveig Dreyer, wife of Colonel Dreyer. "He never left home without it."
"I was raised in the military just like my daughters," said Colonel Dreyer. "The American flag is important to me, so I always felt it was necessary to carry it with me."
After 37 years of military service, the Vietnam veteran will retire in the spring, but the next generation will continue to serve.
"I feel proud to be able to continue this tradition," said Lieutenant Dreyer, a C-130 Hercules navigator deployed from the 50th Airlift Squadron, Little Rock AFB, Ark., "I've grown up watching my dad serve his country, so it was only natural that I do the same. The Air Force is home for the Dreyer family."