Illinois Soldier spends Father's Day with step-daughter at annual training PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Staff Sgt. James McDonnough, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Friday, 14 June 2013 09:52

SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/13/2013)(readMedia)-- With 13,000 Soldiers and Airmen in the Illinois National Guard, it is not uncommon for multiple generations of families to serve side-by-side. One father will celebrate this Father's Day serving beside his step-daughter during a two-week annual training exercise in Wisconsin.

Sgt. Tracy Wright, of St. Charles, a supply specialist with the Illinois Army National Guard's Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment in Sycamore, deployed to Operation Desert Storm as a Marine, before leaving the military to raise two stepdaughters and one son with Danielle, his wife of 14 years.

However, in 2009, at age 39, Wright decided it was time to get back in uniform.

"I missed the service and I missed the military," Wright said. "I was too old to go back to the Marines and the recruiter suggested the Illinois National Guard and that's what I did."

Danielle said she had mixed emotions about her husband returning to military service, but she ultimately knew it was the right decision.

"Part of me worried about his safety and his responsibilities at home," she said. "I asked him 'What about our family?' We couldn't have him gone. But there was another part of me that knew this is what he was meant to do."

Pvt. 1st Class Tayler Avery, of Maple Park, a chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear specialist with the Illinois Army National Guard's 135th Chemical Company, 44th Chemical Battalion, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, based in Machesney Park, was a junior in high school when her stepfather, who she has called dad since age 5, joined the Illinois National Guard.

Avery said Wright made her a part of the process, which brought them closer together.

"When he decided he wanted to enlist in the National Guard, he had some weight to lose," Avery said. "At the time, I was running cross-country so it became a bonding experience for us. We would go on runs or work out every day and I thought it was cool being able to do stuff with my dad. Seeing him push himself was really great."

When Avery made the decision to enlist in the Illinois National Guard in 2011, it was Wright's turn to be proud of his stepdaughter's dedication.

"I'm extremely proud of everything she's accomplished," he said. "When she was a teenager and looking for direction, I think she hit the mark and ran with it. She's taken everything in stride and really enjoys serving."

Avery said her stepfather provided encouragement and guidance from the time the idea of serving entered her mind at 17.

"I was working out with him and I started thinking about it as a real possibility," Avery said. "He was really supportive, and he would have been whether I decided to enlist or not. He was supportive but wasn't trying to push me toward it. He was just helpful and answered all of my questions. He even answered questions I didn't know I had yet."

Danielle said being a military wife and mother allows her to see how positive the National Guard has been for her family.

"Of course I worry but I'm proud of both of them," she said. "I'm proud of the sacrifices they make and what they do for their country. I'm proud that Tracy has influenced Tayler enough that she wanted to follow in his footsteps."

She said Wright has always set the example for their three children and takes pride in being the best father he can be.

As far as being gone for Father's Day, Wright said his family understands holidays without him at home.

"My wife is very supportive of the military stuff and she knows it's what I enjoy," he said. "My son and my other daughter are also very understanding."

Wright said although he and Avery will not be co-located during their two-week annual-training exercise, they plan to meet up and take some Father's Day pictures.

Avery said she appreciates her dad for much more than his service to his country.

"I'm just really happy that he came into our lives and accepted my little sister and me as his own kids," she said. "He is a great dad and I'm honestly very grateful to have a dad like him."

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