Army Reserve Soldier continues family's legacy of service

By Sgt. Zachary Mott | U.S. Army Central | April 4, 2019

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait —

Tracing a continued family history of military service back to World War II is something Spc. Cory Lien Jr. is proud to say.

“Everyone in my family has served at one point or another. It’s always been in the back of my mind,” said Lien Jr., a medical laboratory technician with the U.S. Army Reserve’s 452nd Combat Support Hospital currently deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Lien is the fourth generation of his family to serve in the Army. His great-grandfather, retired 1st Sgt. Rocky Kampa, is a World War II veteran who served for 28 years on active duty. His grandfather, retired 1st Sgt. Charles Kampa, was a member of the 452nd CSH and served during Operation Iraqi Freedom during the same time as the elder retired Sgt. Cory Lien, who was a cavalry scout with the Minnesota Army National Guard’s 34th Red Bull Infantry Division before he was forced to medically retire due to injuries sustained while in Iraq.

Lien Jr., his father Cory Lien, and grandfather Charles Kampa have all spent time in Kuwait, a fact the three Soldiers talk about during their chats.

“We share stories about what we’ve done and where we are. The fulcrum is that no one else in the family understands it but us, so we talk about it,” Lien Jr. said. “I tell him how much (Kuwait has) changed since then. He likes hearing about how nice it’s gotten.”

The legacy of service is something the three surviving generations are proud to discuss. For Lien Jr., that desire to serve was bolstered by seeing both his father and grandfather in uniform as some of his earliest memories.

“In the back of my head I’ve always saw myself in the uniform,” said Lien Jr. “Growing up watching my dad, growing up watching my grandfather do it, it’s always been a big part of my life. I really admire and look up to both my dad and grandfather for what they did. I’ve always thought I wanted to be like that.”

For Charles Kampa, he said he’s proud of his grandson’s service and is looking forward to having those conversations in person instead of over a phone line or computer.

“I was proud to serve and hope he feels the same way,” he said. “It is good to communicate with him now but will be even better when we can share memories when he gets home.”

Lien Jr. will hit three years of service soon and hopes to continue to serve as long as possible. He said he hopes he can make it to first sergeant like his grandfather and great-grandfather did. He said his father wanted to serve a full 20 years as well, but his career was cut short because of injuries. 

“I’m planning on sticking with the 452nd for the long haul if I can,” Lien Jr. said.

He said it’s the sense of camaraderie that he most enjoys about the military. 

“I really like how everyone is out to watch your back,” Lien Jr. said. “They just kind of care. I really enjoy that. It’s a large group bonding experience.”

When Lien Jr. returns home, he will share more stories with his father and grandfather and reflect on four generations of service.

“Even though we didn't set out to have such a tradition for four generations, it is nice to remember that it happened and all four generations did so with a sense of duty and love of country,” Charles Kampa said. “Freedom isn't free.”