CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- A heart-warming reunion took place here as a father assisted in presenting his son with his first Good Conduct Medal, Nov. 23.
While most deployed troops have to wait to visit loved ones back in the U.S., one father and son had the rare opportunity to reunite while serving in Afghanistan.
Marine Cpl. Brandon Edgerton, supply warehouse clerk, Medical Logistics Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (Forward), 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) and father Army 1st Sgt. Evan Unstead, first sergeant of Distribution Company, Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, hadn’t seen each other in almost a year when they reunited for the ceremony.
When Edgerton found out he was to receive the Good Conduct Medal, his chain of command delayed his award ceremony so that it could be presented while Edgerton’s father was present.
"I missed his graduation from boot camp and anything else that has happened during his career," said Unstead, 43, from Rocky Mount, N.C. "And being in the same country at the same time, I was not going to miss him receiving his Good Conduct Medal."
Since June 2007, when Edgerton stepped on the yellow footprints, it has not been easy for the duo to play an active role in each other’s lives. Unstead is based at Fort Drum, N.Y., and Edgerton was assigned to Camp Pendleton, Calif., after serving two years with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan.
"The last time we saw each other was last year during Christmas," said Edgerton, from San Antonio. "It’s basically when he is home and I can take leave, is when we get to see each other."
"It’s the first time we both are in the same place on active duty in uniform," he added.
With active military careers, the father-son duo do not allow the distance to affect their relationship.
"We talk on a regular basis," said Edgerton. "We talk about the military and our lives."
Not only does Edgerton seek personal guidance from Unstead as a father, but also seeks military guidance from him as a senior enlisted service leader.
"He’s been there, he has done all that," said Edgerton. "Whenever I had a question, he would always have an answer, and it has helped me along the way."
"It keeps him on the straight and narrow," Unstead said. "So far I have heard nothing more than good things about him. It makes me proud."
Not only was it a proud moment for Unstead to see his son presented with the medal, but it was an honorable moment when Edgerton chose to serve his country three and a half years ago.
"He could have chosen anything to do with his life," Unstead said. "But he chose to be that one percent that gives back and defend his country."
Edgerton knew he wanted to serve his country, and when it came down to making the decision to join the Marine Corps, his father was there to help him.
"It came down to me wanting to make my own path," said Edgerton, who is the first Marine in his family.
Having a father in the military opened Edgerton’s eyes.
"Having my father in the military, I got to see a lot," he said. "I joined the military to see the world, to do something better with my life."
Edgerton remembers when his father would come back from a tour and would take him and his mother to various places.
"I thought it was important to tell and show him that there are other things outside his imminent surroundings," said Unstead, "to appreciate what you have."
Not only has Edgerton traveled across the world to serve his country, but he has committed another four years to the Corps. He re-enlisted a week before he deployed in September.
Being presented the medal was not only a milestone for Edgerton, but it was a memorable moment with his father there, he said.
This reunion maybe the last time the father-son duo will see each other before they are once again reunited in the States. They will both head home in early spring.