How gaming in wartime connected soldiers, a father and a son
Every son yearns to connect with his dad and every father wants a meaningful relationship with his son. It’s not always easy; life’s responsibilities can put obstacles in the way.
As a command sergeant major in the U.S. Army — the service’s highest enlisted rank — Chris Fields has a mountain of those responsibilities.
Sgt. Maj. Fields regularly leads large numbers of troops into heavy combat situations. From Iraq to Afghanistan, he and his troops have performed the fierce work required of front-line soldiers, the kind of work most people would never consider. His version of a tough commute includes firefights and homemade landmines in the road. In his own words, Fields has been “blown up” 14 times, yet still he keeps heading back into the world’s most dangerous places. The story of Fields and his unit is depicted in the documentary The Hornet’s Nest, which premiered in theaters on Friday.
Fields’ family wants him home. Among them is his teenage son, Gavin. The strain of long overseas combat deployments weigh heavily on their relationship
“I was having a relational … hiccup with my son Gavin,” Fields said, recalling a recent deployment. “I love that young man dearly, but we were just not firing. I wanted to go work on motorcycles, I wanted to go shooting, and he wanted to play video games.”
Specifically, Call of Duty, Fields said.
Soon after, Fields and his command were moved from the combat theater and he returned home.
“When I came home, the first time that my son asked me to play, in the back of my mind I was so eager to play,” Fields remembered. “Then it brought back the memory of Jameson trying to help me. My son and I, we’ve played a few times, probably not as much as we should.
“My son Gavin has commented that he appreciates me playing, and every time I do play I give credit to Jameson Lindskog showing me a different perspective on video games.”
Rich Grisham is a writer and the host of the Press Row Podcast, a biweekly discussion of sports video games. He lives in New Jersey.