By Marie Roberts/Guest Write
The Meridian Star
Davey Walker, who graduated May 10 from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, and Kyle Rhodes, who is in his seventh week of basic training at the same facility, have many things in common.
Their shared hobbies include a dedicated service to the United States Air Force, a love of MSU athletics, and an appreciation for Southern comfort cooking.
The most significant trait shared between the two is family. Walker, father to son Conner and daughter Caroline, is married to Rhodes’s sister, Jessica. The brotherly bond between Walker and Rhodes was strong prior to their joining the military, but the two now share a deeper connection as brothers-in-arms.
While many families spent the Independence Holiday weekend grilling out or enjoying some fun in the sun, the Walker/Rhodes family celebrated the military service of its brave men.
Walker, who is studying aerospace maintenance during technical school at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, plans to become a crew chief after graduation.
Paula Rhodes, Walker’s stepmother-in-law and Rhodes’ stepmother, is encouraging and supportive to both family members. “[Walker] has been on his own at technical school, but he’s made some friends and we’re sending a lot of letters so I think he’s making it okay,” Paula said.
Rhodes, who will study air traffic control during technical school at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, is a 2012 graduate of Southeast Lauderdale High School. The young soldier is set to graduate in two weeks from basic training. His father, Rodney Rhodes of the Collinsville community, is overwhelmingly proud of his son’s accomplishments, having served in and retiring from the United States Army.
After reaching the halfway point in his basic training, Rhodes was able to call home to his father just days after Father’s Day: “We finally got to hear his voice. He sounded stronger and like he was doing well,” Rodney said.
The Walker/Rhodes family has served as cheerleaders, motivators, support systems and more for their family members. Chris Walker, mother of Davey Walker, and Kim Trantham Rhodes, mother of Kyle Rhodes, continually express pride and gratitude for their sons' service.
For Walker’s wife and Rhodes’ sister, Jessica, the journey of having two close family members join the military so close together has been difficult. Reflecting back, Jessica commends Walker’s ability to focus on his family while in basic training. During one call home, Walker showed great selflessness for his wife and children: “And in his usual sweet, selfless manner, he wanted to know how the kids and I were holding up,” Jessica said.
As for having her younger brother in service, Jessica has served as a motivator the whole way. She started a Facebook page titled “Encouraging Words for Kyle.” Each week, Jessica would have family and friends posts inspirational quotes, favorite Bible verses, or heartfelt entries for Rhodes.
She would then print the page off to mail to Rhodes as motivation to succeed throughout basic training.
Each family member of the Walker/Rhodes family has played a part in encouraging Davey and Kyle. “We miss them both. We are so proud and cannot wait to have them home,” Paula Rhodes said.