Mitchell Chastain had a history of military service before joining the Navy. He enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1989 and served in that branch for 18 years. When he came home to Cleveland after a 12-month deployment to Iraq in November 2005, Mitchell decided he needed a life change and separated from the Army National Guard in April 2007.
However, his son’s ambition would end up motivating him to be a soldier again.
“When my son graduated high school last year, he decided he wanted to go into the military,” Mitchell said. “I went with him to speak with recruiters from the different branches. We wanted to hear what everybody had to say.”
While he knew he wanted to rejoin the reserves to finish out his retirement time, Mitchell did not have any definite plans prior to those meetings.
“When I finally spoke to the Navy Reserve recruiter about the possibility of enlisting in the Navy, I was ready to head to the MEPS [short for Military Entrance and Processing Station],” Mitchell said.
After meeting with recruiters, both father and son knew where they wanted to enlist.
“The Navy impressed us both, and we came away from there with both of us deciding that’s what we wanted to do,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell Chastain enlisted as a Navy reserve mineman in July 2009. Son Blake Chastain later enlisted to serve as a hospital corpsman for five years and left for basic training at the Recruit Training Command in October 2010, before heading to Naval Hospital Corps School. Both began attending classes for their respective fields at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois.
For the father and son, being sent to the same naval station proved to be a “blessing,” Mitchell said.
“I was excited when I heard my dad was going to be here,” Blake said. “I’ve never been away from home before so I’m very glad he’s here. My friends ask me what I’m going to do after school and I tell them I’m going over to my dad’s place.”
Naval training school is not an experience many parents get to share with their children.
“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have Blake here with me,” Mitchell said.
However, while they have both been in training, Penny Chastain, Mitchell’s wife and Blake’s mother, has been living in Cleveland without them nearby.
“Luckily, my mom’s a strong person,” Blake said. “I know she misses us both.”
As he continues with his studies, Blake is determined to succeed in his field.
“I’m really focusing and trying to do well,” Blake said. “It’s paid off so far.”
Blake said he appreciates what he has learned in training and the ways those things are taught.
“The training is great,” Blake said. “They break down things that in high school I found very complex, so I understand them a lot better here. I like it.”