Most Marines, whether serving on active duty or in the reserves, don’t have as many opportunities to celebrate holidays with their families due to service commitments. It is normal and expected to miss out on holidays spent with loved ones including this Father’s Day, June 19, 2016. Despite this, there are two Marines at Integrated Training Exercise 4-16 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, that have the unique opportunity to celebrate the holiday together this year.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Mark A. Tyson, chief staff-noncommissioned officer in charge, environmental services division, Marine Forces Reserve, joined the Marine Corps March 9, 1987; he got out for two years in two-thousand then rejoined and is currently serving his last enlistment culminating his thirty years in the Marine Corps. His son, Sgt. Stephen A. Tyson, a squad leader with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, MARFORRES, had the opportunity to spend Father’s Day with him before the next evolution of the ITX kicks off.
The military has been a part of both of the Marines lives early on and has had a great influence in their decisions to join the Marine Corps.
“Ever since I was nine years old that is what I wanted to do. I grew up a Navy brat, my dad was a command master chief with Seal Team One, so I grew up in a military family, there was also a Marine that had recently graduated from boot camp that was a member of my uncle’s congregation who was a pastor, and he called my parents to see if he could get a meal and a comfortable place to sleep,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Tyson. “I just remember sitting there listening to this young Marines stories and I was just awe inspired, and ever since then when I was nine years old I wanted to join.”
His son has had similar influences in his life but made the decision on his own to become a Marine. Not only did he grow up with the military influence from his dad and family, he just knew that it was something that was going to be a part of his life since he was young.
“I always knew I was going to be in the military, I didn’t know to what capacity until I was older, but I would say I knew from the time I was four or five, it wasn’t until nine or 11 that I knew the differences between the services and wanted to be in the Marines Corps,” he added. “I kind of grew up in that household and I would hear the stories and watch the movies and at a young age, it stuck along the way and it’s all I wanted.”
Though they are together for this Father’s Day, that has not always been the case. They have served in the military together for ten years but have never had the opportunity to serve in the same exercise at the same time.
“It is pretty unique, his brother, my other son, are a unique family and we have another family member that is Marine Corps also,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Tyson. “At one point all three of us were in active duty at the same time. This is the first time we have had the chance to be in an operational environment together, we both have been on active duty at different times but now we are both in the Reserve capacity.”
While they are both training at ITX together, they have different jobs to complete. Master Gunnery Sgt. Tyson serves in the environmental compliance division.
“I do the environmental compliance, hazmat compliance; we go around doing ground safety inspections. We go to the motor pool lots making sure there are no spilled or mixed hazards materials, and we go to the ranges doing walkthroughs, making sure there is no left over dunnage or debris, or any environmental impact.”
While he his ensuring the environmental impact during the exercise is low, Sgt. Tyson is getting ready to concentrate on his job as an NCO and ensuring his Marines are ready to fight any time and place.
“My job is to lead Marines to train them and develop their tactical and technical skills to make sure they are proficient in their weapons systems and knowledge.”
Sgt. Tyson’s father has had the opportunity to watch his son develop as a leader and continues to offer him advice throughout his career.
“I see someone that is very purpose driven that is an NCO, we have had a couple of different talks, the leadership role is to be expected. I also tell him to do right thing and you can never go wrong, take care of your Marines and they will take care of you.”
The father and son duo will serve through Father’s Day. During the exercise, all Marines participating focus on completing the combined-arms exercise ensuring they are able to combine all elements of Marine Air Ground Task Force. With this in mind, Master Gunnery Sgt. Tyson took only a quick pause to share a laugh with his son over the homemade Father’s Day card, made of a torn piece of paper and scribbled writing found on his rack this morning, he also took one more quick moment reflect on the unique opportunity he has to serve with his son and the pride it brings him as a Marine and father.
“I feel pretty proud I don’t think there are many opportunities in the Corps to show up in the Mojave Desert, and see your son get off the bus and you kind of realize maybe you did have an impact on his life.”
Story by Sgt. Sara Graham