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Soldier Honors Father With Service

By Army Staff Sgt. John Zumer
Task Force Duke

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The game of catch, a ritual enjoyed by countless fathers and sons over the years, is fondly looked back on by many not only as a game, but also as a bonding experience.

Army Staff Sgt. Brian Reddington stands outside the Task Force Duke tactical operations center on Forward Operating Base Salerno, March 12, 2011. Reddington credits his stepfather, Army Sgt. 1st Class John Stephens, who was killed in action in Tikrit, Iraq, on March 15, 2007, with inspiring him to join the Army, and continues to serve to honor his name. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. John Zumer

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

For Army Staff Sgt. Brian C. Reddington, an air traffic controller assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, his memories of playing catch with his father also are tinged with sadness.

Army Sgt. 1st Class John Stephens, a combat medic and the man Reddington considers his father, was killed in action March 15, 2007, in Tikrit, Iraq, when a shaped charge was thrown at his convoy traveling back to Forward Operating Base Speicher. A veteran with 21 years of service, he was on his second deployment, and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Reddington was stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala., when he heard the news.

“You can never prepare yourself for something like that,” he said. “It happens to other people.”

The last time he saw his father was two months before Stephens deployed from Fort Riley, Kan. Despite the loss of a father who had been so influential in raising him, Reddington chooses to remember the timeless memories and lessons passed along. Through them all, the one constant was the American pastime.

“Baseball,” Reddington said. “That’s what we did. He was always my coach up until my junior year” of high school.

Reddington smiled as he remembered one of his baseball games when, as a 14-year-old, he was pitching for a team coached by his father. After being hit hard early by the opposition, his father and coach was on the verge of taking him out, something undoubtedly hard to stomach for both parties involved.

“Just give me one more inning,” Reddington recalled saying, wanting one last chance to work his way out of trouble by himself.

His father ultimately left him in, Reddington pitched his way out of the jam, and the game ended happily. But, like many aspects of life touched by baseball, the greatest lessons had nothing to do with the final score or individual statistics.

“[It was] the first time in our relationship that he really trusted me,” Reddington said, noting that it was perhaps that moment when a father finally saw a son’s confidence and abilities to overcome the odds against him.

Stephens and Reddington’s mother married shortly before Reddington turned 6. A younger brother and sister completed the family. Growing up, his father’s military service was something he looked up to, but never was a foregone conclusion that he would follow. Once he decided to enlist, however, the choice was clear.

“When I decided to join, it made the Army the only option,” he said.

With nine years of service under his belt and on his second deployment, Reddington is leaning toward making the Army a career. It undoubtedly will be talked about at length with his wife, Tina, as was his reenlistment decision after his father died.

“It was an eye-opener to what could really happen,” Reddington said. “Ultimately it was continuing what he started. I reenlisted because I wanted to follow through.”

With leave slated for June, Reddington is looking forward to seeing his wife and their three children: 6-year-old Grace, 5-year-old Caleb and baby Jacob, who was born March 9. The children will never get the chance to meet their grandfather, but it doesn’t mean his legacy won’t be passed on. Reddington said he looks forward to sharing with his own children the same timeless advice he heard from his dad that remains with him today.

“The thing I carry with me from what he said is, ‘No matter what you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability.'”

Four years have passed since his father’s death in Iraq. As to what he would like his own children to remember about their grandfather, Reddington paused a moment, finally paying the ultimate compliment.

“He was a great father.”

http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2011-03/scr_110318-A-9999X-001.jpg Brian Reddington, at age 8, plays Army with his stepfather, then-Army Sgt. John Stephens, at their home on Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in 1989. Reddington said Stephens, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2007, was his inspiration to join the military. Courtesy photo
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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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