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Like Father, Like Son: A Tradition of Military Service

Military service roots run deep in the McDonough family. Warrior Tim McDonough served in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force. His father served as a U.S. Marine during the Vietnam War. Five years ago, it came as little surprise when Tim’s son, Devin, decided to join the U.S. Army.

Tim had his concerns, of course. He’d spent time in combat zones and returned home with visible and invisible wounds. But he also knew how proud Devin is of his military roots, and what a great asset he would be to the military.

Recently, Tim got to participate in Devin’s military journey when he traveled to Fort Carson, Colorado, to pin the rank of sergeant on his son.

“They called everybody to attention,” Tim said remembering the details from that day. “Then they read the charge of the NCO [non-commissioned officer]. They read the order stating that he’d been promoted to the rank of E-5. They had me walk up front, take his old rank off and put the new one on, take his old hat off, which has his old rank on it, and put the new one on.

“I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Generational Military Families

Like most parents, Tim was initially apprehensive when his son decided to join the military. The war in Afghanistan was still going on, and Tim had memories of his time in service.

“When he first told me he was joining, he originally was going to go into intel (intelligence), and I thought that was a much better fit for him,” Tim said. “But that's a dad talking, not someone who wants to go in and serve their country and do their thing. A few days later he changed his mind and decided to go 88 Mike, a truck driver. I mean, 88 Mike truck drivers are the guys who were getting hurt the most when we were over in Iraq, so I was quite upset about it. Then a good buddy of mine told me, ‘You know when you were 18, nobody could tell you any different.’ And being a son of a warrior myself, my dad couldn't tell me. I had to go in and find out on my own, so I just had to suck it up and let [Devin] do his thing.”

Despite his concerns, Tim knew Devin understood the military life and the possible results of combat. Growing up, Devin watched his father deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other injuries that required a total of 14 surgeries. In the Air Force, Tim served as a crew chief aboard large cargo planes, which would often carry freight like armored vehicles and smaller aircraft.

Sometimes, however, those planes would also carry home the remains of warriors killed in service. Those were the images that stuck with Tim the most.

“Dealing with PTSD and the depression was the worst of it all,” Tim said. “There were several times when I never thought a day like this would come or be possible. Now, here we are today. It’s amazing.”

Tim’s own father, a Vietnam-era veteran, was close in his thoughts at the ceremony. Three generations of service to the country is substantial. Even with all the worries and the knowledge of the traumas that can accompany being in the military, Tim was honored and moved by the tradition of service and the selfless contributions veteran families make.

“It was a very proud moment – and very sobering,” Tim said of Devin’s rank-pinning ceremony. “It was also a very crystal-clear moment for me. When I was going through the worst of what I went through, with post-traumatic stress and major depressive disorder, I kept having a recurring dream of my father telling me, ‘You’re not done yet.’ And that day definitely fit the bill.”

Carrying on a Tradition of Service

Tim is also reassured that his son is more than ready to handle all the challenges that may come ahead. Devin didn’t only watch his dad battle visible and invisible wounds, he saw his dad overcome those obstacles and pay it forward to other veterans. He saw his dad reach out for help when he needed it and create a positive path out of the darkness.

Honoring the memories of those heroes on the plane who made the ultimate sacrifice became a primary focus to Tim, and he knew he could only do that if he healed himself. He found Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), which connected him to mental health resources and to other veterans. Through WWP’s adaptive sports program, he also found his love of archery and is working toward a new career in the culinary arts after attending a WWP cooking course. He is attending the Culinary Institute of America and hopes to open a food truck with the goal of feeding homeless veterans.

“I think of all the NCOs I know, Devin is probably the most prepared because he lived it,” Tim said. “He had to live with me going through it and saw how I came out on the other side of it. And I'm doing a lot better now. I live the Wounded Warrior Project logo. I went from being the warrior on the top being carried to being a warrior on the bottom carrying others.

“That’s my mission now – to help others get through it.”

Contact: — Paris Moulden, Public Relations,, 904.570.7910

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.



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