BANGOR, Maine — One has spent the last 24 years serving this country and retired Sunday as a master sergeant for the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling Wing.
The other watched him put on his uniform year after year and a week ago decided to get his own.
Kyle Joseph Martin O’Connell is following in his dad’s footsteps.
“I’m retiring from the Guard on Sunday, and my son just enlisted last Thursday so it will be his first drill,” Brewer resident Kevin O’Connell said last week.
“It just worked out that way,” the younger O’Connell said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Kyle O’Connell, 20, grew up watching his dad travel all over the world in service of his country, but joining the military was not something his dad pushed on him.
“I never thought I would join the military,” he said. “But I started thinking about it last year. The benefits and the training” are what attracted him.
Kevin O’Connell said that when he left for a six-month stint in Baghdad in July 2009, his son was studying sports management at Husson University. When he returned his son had changed his major to criminal justice.
“I realized that it wasn’t for me,” Kyle O’Connell said of sports management, so he joined the Air Force to gain experience and training as a military police officer.
“They’re going to teach me to be a cop for the military,” Kyle O’Connell said.
He leaves for his nine weeks of Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, in March and is scheduled for advanced technical training to be an MP after that.
“The Air National Guard will give me college credit for basic and tech school, so I’ll only need about a year more and I’ll have my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice,” Kyle O’Connell said. “It’s not a bad gig.”
He officially enlisted on Jan. 27.
“I was surprised, pleasantly surprised,” said his dad, who is a first class lineman for Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. and a Brewer City Council member. “I didn’t push him. He came up with this on his own. He’s got more of a plan than I did at this age.”
A retirement party was held for Kevin O’Connell on Saturday night at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Brewer, which is where his son works part time.
“It was time to turn the page so I can devote more time to the city of Brewer and work more at Bangor Hydro,” he said.
Being in the Guard means one weekend a month is dedicated to training.
For Kevin O’Connell, Sunday was his last drill and it was the first of many for his son.
“I’m really proud of him,” Kevin O’Connell said.
His son returned the comment saying, “I’m very proud of him as well. He’s a good guy.
“It’s kind of a cool thing to follow in his footsteps,” Kyle O’Connell said.