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Altus | Airman serves alongside father at AAFB

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The roar of jet engines fills the air as the Mighty 97th’s fleet soars through the clear blue sky. Amidst the chaos, a bond stronger than steel is forged on the ground below. Staff Sgt. Bryson Fry, a ground transporter from the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and his father, Branden Fry, a hydraulic systems mechanic from the 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, are the father-son duo whose dedicated service is a testament to the power of family, honor and the unyielding service that propels them.

It all began in Sentinel, Oklahoma, when Branden joined the Army National Guard in 1993.

“I’ve always been a giver,” said Branden. “I thought, ‘what better way to give back than to serve my country?’ I started my military career when I was 17. My parents had to sign my papers for me. I went to basic training the summer of my junior year in high school. I served 20 years in the Guard and came to Altus to enroll in the ‘Grow Your Own Mechanic’ program.”

Branden and Bryson reflected on Bryson’s childhood. Though his father remained in Oklahoma, during his military tenure he went on five deployments, one of them being Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“When I left for Iraq, I didn’t tell everyone what I would be doing there. I didn’t want my family to worry any more than they already were. I told them I’d be on a forward operating base, but in reality, we went outside the wire every day on missions as a personal security detail,” said Branden. “Being away from my son was definitely not easy, but I bonded with some of the younger Soldiers who reminded me of Bryce. It was nice to know that I could find comfort in some of the ‘kids’ that I was deployed with.”

Branden recalled his homecoming after serving in Iraq.

“I remember during the welcome ceremony, as soon as I caught Bryson’s eye I could see how excited he was,” he said. “He had eventually let that excitement take over him and he jumped over the rail and ran right up to me.”

Upon the father’s return home, the duo did everything together, from going to off-road parks and riding side-by-sides to fighting fires.

“As soon as I turned 18, I joined the volunteer fire department with my dad,” said Bryson. “I really enjoy helping people, and doing something you love right beside someone you love - there’s no greater feeling.”

Bryson was inspired by his father and decided to follow his path in military service.

“I remember walking toward the Army recruiter’s office but dad pulled my arm and yanked me into the Air Force recruiter’s office,” Bryson said. “I left for Basic Military Training two weeks after high school. After my initial training, I got my orders to Minot AFB, North Dakota, where I worked in vehicle maintenance.”

Branden reminisced on the wide array of emotions he felt when his son joined the service.

“When he left to start his military career, it was bittersweet,” Fry said. “I was undeniably proud of him, but I knew I was going to miss seeing our fire uniforms hanging right next to each other.”

Throughout Bryson’s first assignment, despite the distance between him and his father, Branden made sure to make time to see him.

“For the five years that he was stationed in Minot, I drove 18 hours every three months to go and see him,” said Branden. “I promised him that wherever he went, I would go and visit.”

The two are now united once again in Altus, where they still take their ATV’s off-roading, work side by side as volunteer firefighters and continue their legacy of service at the ‘Mighty 97th’.