Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Drake didn’t want his daughter Brittany to join the Army. The Noncommissioned Officer Academy instructor wanted her to go to college and play basketball, something he had dreamed of since he was her coach in the fifth grade.
But Brittany had been thinking and talking with her high school friends in Fayetteville, N.C., about joining the military.
“She mentioned to me the idea of joining the Marines in the spring of her senior year,” Timothy said. “I took her to a Marine recruiting office and asked the recruiter about life in the military and deployments. I wanted to scare Brittany about going into the service.”
Brittany said she didn’t like the experience.
“I got mad at him. I didn’t talk to him for a while because I wanted to make my own decisions,” she said.
Timothy said his biggest worry for Brittany was deploying. He’s deployed twice with the 82nd Airborne Division to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I didn’t want my daughter in that kind of hostile environment, not that she couldn’t care for herself but as a parent you do the best you can to keep your kids safe from harm,” he said.
Timothy said he felt it was guaranteed she would deploy if she joined the military so he kept emphasizing the war to discourage her.
Then an Army National Guard recruiter visited one of Brittany’s classes and she learned that a friend had already joined. Brittany liked the idea of doing one weekend a month and two weeks a year. She could go to college at the same time.
“I talked to mom about it and she told me that if I wanted to do it that she would support my decision,” Brittany said.
Brittany was sworn in June 22, 2007. Then she called her dad to inform him about it.
Timothy was working on a training operation at Fort Lee when he got the call.
“Dad, guess what? I joined the Army,” Brittany recalled.
“No, you didn’t. I told you not to do it,” was Timothy’s response. He heard voices in the background and asked Brittany to put the recruiter on the phone. Timothy scolded the recruiter over the phone but then he remembered where he was.
“I was hot. I hung up the phone; there was too many people around me and my emotions were haywire,” Timothy said.
Brittany reminded her dad that his parents had done the same thing that he was doing.
It took time for Timothy to accept Brittany’s decision. She would be shipping to Basic Combat Training within two weeks and he didn’t want her to leave knowing he was still angry.
“I told her how to prepare for Basic (Combat Training) and how the drill sergeants were going to be. Our relationship became tighter as a result,” he said.
Now they have two things in common. They are both Soldiers and food service specialists.
Brittany expects to graduate from the food service course at Fort Lee Feb. 11 and follow orders to Fort Bragg, N.C.
Timothy also expects to get orders for reassignment to Fort Bragg.
“I want to be with her; if she deploys, I want to watch her deploy,” Timothy said.
He now coaches her on how to succeed in the Army but has found that Brittany in many ways is already on the right track.
“I’ve always been protective of Brittany. I can see now that I don’t have to be. I’ve learned she makes good decisions. She’s careful about who she makes friends with. When she decides on something, she goes for it. She’s a strong woman and I’m proud of her,” Timothy said.