Photo Information

AL ASAD, Iraq- Corporal Will Knies, electrician, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 stands next to his father, Chief Warrant Officer Bart Knies, product control officer, 571st Medical Company (Air Ambulance) here. Father and son are serving here with their respective units at the same time.

Photo by Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Like father like son, almost

6 Apr 2005 | Cpl. C. Alex Herron

For many children, following their father’s footsteps is a childhood dream. Cpl. Will J. Knies, electrician, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, followed his father all the way to Iraq.Knies is here serving with his father, Army Chief Warrant Officer Bart Knies, product control officer, 571st Medical Company (Air Ambulance). A product control officer is in charge of the maintenance of the aircraft. He will test fly the bird when needed to make sure all systems are in good working order. Bart has served in the Army for 26 years. While Will spends his Iraqi days on the flightline repairing electrical systems on the F/A-18 Hornets, his army father is just a flightline away. His father, flies his life saving missions for injured service members fighting in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.This is Bart’s second deployment to the region, but this is the first time to serve along side his son.. Bart also has a daughter who is a freshman at the Coast Guard Academy. Both of his children grew up traveling around the globe with their military father. “We traveled around a lot. We were able to experience different cultures and different kinds of people,” said young Knies who joined the Marine Corps in June 2002. “I lived in Korea for 13 years because of my father’s service. It was a positive experience that I wouldn’t have traded for the world.”With his father as his role model, Knies decided military service was the way to make his mark on the world. When the time came for the Knies to leave home he picked the Marine Corps.“He wanted to do things the hard way I guess,” said Bart. “But we support his decision. He is a grown man, who knows what he wants and has a plan for getting it.” Knies’ will follow a similar career path as his father, who enlisted in the Army in 1979. At the rank of staff sergeant, he opted for the warrant officer program in 1988 to fly the Army’s UH-60 Blackhawk. The Marine’s future plans include becoming a Marine officer and flying helicopters for the Corps.“I would like to follow in my father’s footsteps and fly helicopters,” Knies said. “The only difference is I just want to do it for the Marine Corps.”When the 571st got word of their current deployment after returning from Iraq in spring of 2004, father and son were unaware of their future good fortune until the Fighting Bengals of VMFA(AW)-224 received word of their deployment. “We had rumors we were going to deploy throughout the summer, but I never thought it would be at the same time as my father,” Knies said. “It is really weird to have my dad here. I can’t get over the fact that I just need to go to the other side of the base to see him. I never thought we would work on the same base, especially with us being in different services in a combat zone.” Whenever a service member deploys there is a loved one back home who is concerned for his well being. “When my wife found out we were both deploying she wasn’t very happy,” Bart said. “But Will will be home by August and I’ll be back in December. Once he returns she will be a little more at ease for the rest of my tenure in Al Asad.”Deploying at the same time also gives the Knies’ more opportunities to see each other than if they were stateside. Since the 571st is based in Fort Carson, Colo., and VMFA(AW)-224 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. the two do not see a lot of each other. “With the distance between our bases we rarely see each other, but here we see each other about once a week,” Bart said. “It is nice to see my son every once in a while. It brings a little piece of home here.”
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