An unusual pair of “battle buddies” is about to deploy to Afghanistan from Fort Drum. Michael and Miranda Mogg are a father-daughter pair of soldiers with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.
The Moggs are about to embark on a rare – and intense – bit of father-daughter bonding. Michael is nearing the end of a nearly three-decade-long military career. Miranda is just beginning hers. But for the next nine months, the pair will serve together in Afghanistan.
Miranda arrived at Fort Drum in the fall, after a colleague of her father's worked to bring her to the post. Since then, the two have gotten a kick out of running into each other at work.
“We're like, 'Hey!' and then everybody's like, 'That's your dad?' So, it's weird,” Miranda said, taking a brief break from work recently on post.
“Mostly, we run into each other at my house, when it's dinner time, when it's lunch time, when it's time to, you know, relax. That's where she shows up,” Michael Mogg added.
He is the aviation unit's master gunner, and she is an intelligence analyst. It will be Michael's fifth deployment, and Miranda's first.
It's one thing to run into each other in the hallways at work, but it's another to enter a war zone with a family member. The upcoming deployment has meant some tough discussions for the pair.
“We've talked back at the house, we've talked a little bit about, 'Hey, if this happens, you know, if tragedy does happen,'” Michael said, trailing off a bit. “So it's not like we're just trying to not think about, it's not going to happen, we have to talk about it, so we have. And hopefully, this one goes as good as the last four, for myself, and for her first one.”
Miranda is 21-years-old and joined the Army about two years ago. She grew up on Army posts, as the family moved with Michael's career. For years, she's braced herself for his absences. But she says being on a deployment with her father, seeing more clearly what he's facing, will actually be easier than not knowing.
“You know, he would keep the bad stuff from us, so now, if something's going wrong, I can be like, 'Hey, you need to be careful!' It's going to be really different this time. But, it's cool,” she said.
Michael and Miranda are not the only Moggs with military experience – Miranda's mother, Maria, was also in the Army for four years. She and Michael met when they were enlisted together at Fort Lewis, in Washington state. At the time, Michael says, the Army was less accommodating of family life, and would send married partners to different duty stations.
So Maria put her Army career aside so the two could stay together as Michael pursued his. The couple has another daughter, who is pursuing a civilian career in teaching.
Miranda says she wanted to join the Army for a number of reasons. She wasn't sure just yet what kind of education or career she wanted in civilian life, and she liked all the change and variety in her childhood, as the family moved around a lot. But her dad was part of her inspiration, too.
“You know, he's my hero. I've always looked up to him,” Miranda said.
“How many dads want to hear that?” Michael said. “A lot of dads want to hear that they're, you know, the hero of their child, but, you know, I did push for college. And of course, I told her what to do, and she said, 'No, I'm doing this,' so – just like any child would do to their parent,” he laughed.
In Afghanistan, Miranda will work “behind the wire” - meaning, she'll be on the forward operating base, while Michael's job will mostly take him outside it. The two will probably see each other at briefings after Michael's missions, they said. But they also plan some father-daughter time in the gym and the chow hall.
The two are due back home in early 2014.