SOUTHWEST ASIA – Approximately 100, 000 military service members
are currently deployed and fighting the war against terrorism. Most
of whom, will not see their families for at least six months.
However, there is the rare occasion where family members have the
opportunity to serve side by side.
Senior Master Sgt. Timothy
Lindell, a 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron RC-135
systems engineer, and father of Staff Sgt. Kimberly Haithcoat, Air
Forces Central Command knowledge operations manager, was one of the
lucky few. He and his daughter were both deployed at the same time
to Southwest Asia and able to spend the last four months of his
service in the Air Force together.
Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Lindell and daughter, Staff Sgt.
Kimberly Haithcoat, pose in front of an RC-135 Rivet Joint after his
final flight aboard the aircraft at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
in Southwest Asia, Oct. 10, 2013. Lindell and his daughter were both
deployed at the same time and able to spend the last four months of
his service in the Air Force together. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st
Lt. Susan Harrington)
His final flight in service to his country occurred Oct.
10 aboard the same RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft that started
his operational flying career nearly 20 years ago during
Operation Provide Promise out of Bosnia.
knew the jet was here, we were able to work with maintenance
to ensure it was scheduled on that day,” Lindell said.
Not only was the day made special by the aircraft tail
number, but also because his daughter was able to share it
“I was concerned that if she wasn't able
to make it to my retirement, I wanted to do something with
her,” said Lindell. “Additionally, I flew my very first
sortie on an operational mission over the Adriatic Sea
supporting operations in former Yugoslavia, so I wanted to
finish my flying career on an operational sortie.”
Even though their schedules were polar opposite for the past
four months, and Lindell is now on his way home, they both
still appreciate the blessing.
“I worked a mid-shift
with an unpredictable flying schedule, whereas she was on a
day shift,” said Lindell, who switched from active duty to
guard in 2011 and is deployed from, Offutt Air Force Base,
Neb. “So, we tried to get together whenever we can.”
His daughter echoed his sentiment.
“We tried to meet
once a week for breakfast,” said Haithcoat, deployed from
Minot Air Force Base, N.D.
The pair said they never
imagined this opportunity in their future.
native of Milbank, S.D., said serving in the military was a
family tradition for him, but wasn't sure it would be passed
onto his daughters.
“My dad was a Marine who served
in Vietnam and my grandfathers were in the Army,” he said.
“I chose the Air Force because I wanted to be different, but
my little brother ended up joining after me.”
who enlisted in 1985, said Haithcoat swore she would never
join. “I was rebellious,” she said.
However, she said
she still always had an appreciation for the military
lifestyle, and as she grew older, decided to follow in her
“I was used to the military way
of life,” said Haithcoat, who was born in the Philippines
and later lived in Louisiana, England, Okinawa and
eventually settled in Bellevue, Neb., before joining the Air
Force. “You are able to travel and see a lot of things,
whereas a lot of people never even leave their state or area
they are from.”
Lindell said his daughter worked in
the private sector for a while and it made her realize maybe
the military was a good career option. Haithcoat joined at
21 and has now served for more than seven years. Another of
Lindell's three daughters also enlisted and works at the
National Security Agency on Ft. Meade, Md.
really happy and proud that she decided to join,” Lindell
said. “I went with both of my daughters to the recruiters
and we talked about the different career field options.”
Although they have taken completely different career
paths within the Air Force, Haithcoat said she often went to
her father during the first few years for advice.
“Early on she used to ask me questions pretty frequently,”
Lindell said. “But she is tough and has a strong
personality, so it didn't take her long to find her own
With his retirement looming at the beginning
of December, this was the last chance he had to deploy with
a family member, and he is very appreciative of the
“It's important to have family
support,” Lindell said. “We've both been here separately and
it's literally night and day the difference in quality of
life when you have somebody here as opposed to not.”
Haithcoat agreed and as a single mom understands the
hardships of being away from her four-year-old daughter.
Fortunately, she has had her dad to lean on.
always been there for me,” she said. “Any big events that
happen in my life, when I need some advice, I always call
him, so it's nice to actually talk to him in person.”
Both father and daughter have found great joy in having
each other to lean on, especially when so many others won't
see their families for months to come.
“As a parent
who spent a lot of time separated from my kids, and now
watching my daughter as a mom having to do deal with the
same thing, it is good to be able to offer advice on how to
deal with it,” said Lindell.
Having her father here
in person to provide that advice made a world of difference
for both of them, but also, for the first time Haithcoat was
able to see her father's work.
It was really
comforting to have him here, but also really cool to see him
in action,” Haithcoat said. “As an adult, I was able to come
out and see exactly what he does and understand his
The flight was a very fitting and
memorable way to complete his 28 years in service, and while
Haithcoat hopes to return home in time for his Dec. 12, 2013
retirement, she is thankful to have been part of his final
“I was really excited that I was able to be
here and to see that,” she said. “I think fini flights are a
big milestone in any career, but to be there for your Dad's
in a deployed location ... I was really proud and happy I
could experience that with him.”
(Editor's note: Staff Sgt. Rachelle Elsea
contributed to this story.)
By USAf 1st Lt. Susan Harrington
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