Hurlburt Airman’s family history of service traces from Civil War

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brian Davidson
  • 447th Air Expeditionary Group
A father and son, both serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, recently had a brief family reunion at Sather Air Base, Baghdad. Master Sgt. Patrick LaDue and his youngest son, Senior Airman Gabriel LaDue, a heavy equipment operator stationed at Hurlburt Field, had the opportunity to spend time together as Airman LaDue headed home after completing a deployment with the 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron.

While stories about siblings, husbands and wives, parents and children, and even grandparents and grandchildren serving together have become fairly common, the LaDue family story of service reaches all the way back to the Civil War.

Drawings and paintings by artist and war correspondent Theodore Davis depicting the Civil War are on display in museums throughout the United States.

He was employed by Harpers Weekly newspaper, and in 1889 he wrote; "I have found that a sure guide... was to go toward the place where the heaviest musketry fire was heard."

Since that time, his relatives, the LaDues, have also stepped forward to serve where ever combat operations have occurred.

Mr. Davis was awarded the Grand Order of The Republic Medal for his heroic actions and bravery in documenting the battles that led to the surrender of the Confederacy.

One hundred and forty-three years later, Mr. Davis' Grand Order of the Republic Medal hangs in the "Patriot Room" of the LaDue family home in Oliver Springs, Tenn.

The medal serves as the centerpiece for a collection of military awards, artwork and photos depicting the lineage of family members' service since the Civil War.

Airman Gabriel LaDue's parents, Master Sergeants Patrick and Carolyn LaDue, both serve in the Air National Guard's 134th Air Refueling Wing, Tenn. Sergeant Patrick is serving on his fifth deployment, as part of the 447th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron where he is the vehicle management flight chief. Sergeant Carolyn serves full-time as the base knowledge operations manager.

Their oldest son, Jason, is a master sergeant, at the Air National Guard Readiness Center at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

When asked about his family's history of service, Sergeant Patrick LaDue talks about their annual 4th of July celebration. He explained it's more like a "gathering of eagles." In addition to the typical American family games, bon fire and fireworks, family members participate in reading from the Declaration of Independence and other significant documents from which our country was built.

"After the readings, everyone takes turns talking about what being free means to them," he said. "We each know that some of us might not make it home [next 4th of July] because of deployments and other duty responsibilities, and we also understand that those duties may require the ultimate sacrifice for any of us."

The understanding that service for the greater good of the nation requires sacrifice is a part of the LaDue family heritage.

Sergeant Patrick LaDue is still deployed while Airman Gabriel LaDue, has since returned from his third deployment, and has been reunited with his wife, Tebryia, and sons Kyle, 7, and Noah, 3. 

(Contributions to this article were made by Staff Sgt. Mareshah Haynes)