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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: History of military service inspires generations of the Huffman family

By Jeremy Amick/Missourian Reader
November 20, 2012 | 5:54 p.m. CST
Dane Huffman, the father of wounded Marine Tyler Huffman, said that although he never shared stories of his service with his children, he is proud that his son and daughter chose to carry forth the family’s tradition of military service.

Jeremy Amick is the public affairs officer for the Silver Star Families of America.

Local media outlets have been ablaze with stories about Tyler Huffman — a Marine wounded by a sniper bullet in Afghanistan in 2010 —and the community’s efforts to show their appreciation for his sacrifice by building an accessible home for him.

Though Tyler’s service has been in the forefront of local awareness, lesser known is his family’s tradition of military service, specifically that of his father, Dane Huffman. 

As Dane notes, his grandfather was a combat veteran of World War II and his father served with the 82nd Airborne Division during the 1960s.

Joining the Army in 1987, soon after his graduation from high school in Keokuk, Iowa, the elder Huffman stated, “It’s just something that I had to do; nobody pushed me, it was just something that ran in our family.”

Huffman completed his basic and advanced training as a field artilleryman at Ft. Sill, Okla., in early 1988.

“I was really interested in the artillery because at that time the Pershing missile systems I wanted to work with fell under the artillery,” he said.

“And being a gun guy, if your going to shoot something, you might as well shoot the biggest gun available,” he jokingly added.

Once his training was complete, Huffman was assigned to Battery A, 1/36th Field Artillery Regiment stationed at Augsburg, Germany, and for the next three years worked his way to the assistant gun chief position on the howitzers allocated to the battery.

However, toward the end of his enlistment, the Persian Gulf War occurred which caused his three-year enlistment contract to be extended by six months.  

“We really received no notice of our mobilization,” Huffman said. “We had 30 minutes to get our gear and get ready to go.”

Despite the last-minute notice and stress associated with the unknowns of a deployment, Huffman learned that the “100-Hour War” had ended while he was en route to the Middle East.

Spending a week deployed to Saudi Arabia, he returned to Germany and left the service in August 1991.

Huffman traveled to Mid-Missouri to spend some time with this brother, and  enjoying his time in the area, made the decision to relocate to Fulton.

He spent the next two years drilling with an Army Reserve unit in Jefferson City. Throughout the next few years, he worked several full-time jobs, including operating a tow truck and as a maintenance worker for Shelter Insurance.

Inspired by the events of 9/11 and wanting to work toward a retirement, Huffman joined an artillery unit with the Missouri National Guard in late 2003. Less than a month later, he received notice of deployment to Afghanistan.

The artillery unit to which he was assigned was reclassified as a military police (MP) company and Huffman spent 12 weeks at Ft. Leonard Wood completing the MP school.

While later training for deployment at Ft. Bragg, N.C., a commanding general decided to keep the unit on post to perform garrison MP functions in place of a unit that had deployed overseas.

“While we were mobilized, my one-year enlistment was extended for another six months — the second time in my (military) career.

“It was the Huffman luck,” he joked.

Completing the deployment in 2005, Huffman decided to leave the Missouri National Guard. In 2008, he was hired by the Callaway Nuclear Plant where he continues to work in security.

The father of two sons, Tyler and Shelby, and a daughter, Sarah, who has served in the Navy since 2010, Huffman said he has never shared stories of his military service with his children but is very supportive of the path they have chosen.

“I’m not the type of person who wears his military service on his sleeve,” Huffman said, “but after seeing the outpouring of support for Tyler in the community, it has reminded me why I chose to serve.” 

He added: “I’m am proud that Tyler and Sara made the decision to follow in the footsteps of our family. I believe the service is a good place for young people to receive lessons that will, in the end, help them appreciate the sacrifices that have been made by previous military members.”

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.