Father and Son Continue Family’s Centuries-Old Tradition of Service

Specialist Michael Conner III, left, and his father, Staff Sergeant Michael Conner, Jr., both members of the state’s Medical Detachment, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma Army National Guard, prepare for a blood draw during their annual training in June at Camp Gruber.

Specialist Michael Conner III, left, and his father, Staff Sergeant Michael Conner, Jr., both members of the State’s Medical Detachment, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma Army National Guard, prepare for a blood draw during their annual training in June at Camp Gruber.

One might surmise that Hank Williams Jr. would be extremely proud of an Oklahoma Army National Guard father and son team for serving their country and for carrying on an old “Family Tradition,” the title to one of the country music megastar’s biggest hits back in the ‘70s.

Staff Sergeant Michael Conner Jr., 52, and Specialist Michael Conner III, 24, have been serving side by side in the State’s Medical Detachment since February 2009. The medical duo put their talents on display during their annual training earlier this month at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, and Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

According to the elder medic, the Conners have a history of service to their country dating back to 1755.

“It’s a family tradition,” SSG Conner said. “We’ve had a family member serving in the Army or the National Guard for centuries, but this is the first time we’ve ever had a father and son team serve together since 1755.”

SSG Conner has been with the Medical Detachment, which falls under 90th Troop Command in Oklahoma City, since June 1999, while SPC Conner has been with the unit since February 2009.

The two aren’t in the same squad, however, so there isn’t any conflict of interest as far as following orders and writing enlisted evaluation reports are concerned. SPC Conner said he is especially grateful to share experiences with his father he wouldn’t otherwise have been presented with if not for the Guard.

“I like it,” SPC Conner said. “We get to spend time together and get paid to do it at the same time. We have the opportunity to do things we normally wouldn’t be able to do, like flying in a helicopter and shooting a machine gun out of the helicopter.”

SSG Conner said he was “a little surprised” when his son decided to join the Guard, much like his father was when he decided to join. But, he said, “It makes sense.”

“It’s been a family tradition for years, so it’s just a natural thing,” the elder Conner said. “I was glad when he decided to enlist.”

SSG Conner has deployed twice in his career, once during the first Gulf War and another to Afghanistan, while the junior Conner has yet to deploy.

The elder Conner said his mother wasn’t too thrilled about either of his deployments, but she’s OK with it now.

The Conners also have another family member, Specialist Matthew Conner, serving in the Oklahoma Army National Guard with Headquarters Battery of the 45th Field Artillery Brigade, and his father was in the 45th Infantry Brigade.

“He (Matthew) is also part of the family tradition,” SSG Conner said. “I’m very proud of my son and my nephew. I’m getting old, so I’m going to have to pass the torch eventually. I’m just glad I have the opportunity to mentor them while I’m still here and pass on any wisdom and experience I’ve gained to them.”

If you’re ready to join a proud tradition of serving your community and country, visit the Guard’s jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original article, by Sergeant 1st Class Darren D. Heusel, Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge at Joint Force Headquarters Public Affairs, appeared in the Oklahoma National Guard’s online magazine, Oklahoma Frontline.

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