Children often want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it mostly affects a child's development. It also instills an overall sense of well-being and self-confidence in the child over time.
After speaking with a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers father/son duo, the evidence is clear; this father was absolutely present in his son's life. And in turn, both father and son reap the benefits while working together at the Memphis District Ensley Engineer Yard (EEY).
Ensley Engineer Yard Shops Unit Chief Marvin Roddy, started working for USACE in 2010.
"I made a pact with my mom before enlisting in the military that I would go to school if she signed my contract for the Air Force," he said. "I attended several schools while serving on active duty: Western Oklahoma State College, City College of Chicago, and the University of Maryland. I majored in Mechanical Engineering."
After retiring from the Air Force 25 years later, Marvin worked in the private industry. He owned a culture marble company that he later sold before coming to work for USACE about ten years ago.
"I wanted to continue to serve my country and work around other prior service vets," he said. "Approximately 40 percent of the people I work with are prior military, which is unique in the workplace. I can't think of a better place to work where there's a harmony between both backgrounds within the Corps, which is rare to have experienced teammates with an enormous amount of knowledge to bring to the table for a common goal."
While active duty and later working for USACE, Marvin and his wife managed to raise two sons, Marsalis and Myles, with Marsalis later deciding to work for USACE alongside his father.
"It has been great raising both my sons and watching them become solid men," he said. "Marsalis was always easy going, adventurous, a natural leader, smart, and just fun to be around. I rarely had to help him with his homework."
Marvin said his mom and dad always taught the values of the bible, church, work, education, respect for others and oneself, and helping others.
"Both my parents have/had hearts, as big as Texas,” he added. “My dad died when I was 16, so I never got a chance to experience my father as an adult. So, I really enjoy the times with my sons as men and share stories, conversations as adults that I never had an opportunity to share with my father. One of the biggest things I always share with my sons since they were small is never allow yourself to be…undervalued, marginalized, or unappreciated."
It seems those values were passed down from generation to generation. As Marvin said, Marsalis has always been ambitious, even early in life. He remembers asking Marsalis what he wanted to do, and he replied with wanting to attend an Ivy League School.
"I told him he needed to make very good grades," Marvin said. "Well, he worked very hard and was able to secure offers from two Ivy League Schools and some other prestigious universities. Marsalis accepted the offer from Columbia University, where he earned his Mechanical Engineering Degree in 2015."
Marvin said there are so many stories he can tell about Marsalis, but the one that sticks out most is one that scared Marsalis' mom half to death.
"The one that sticks out is the deep-sea fishing story off the 15 miles of the coast of Port Canaveral," he started. "Where we were fishing in 100 – 150 feet of water and he dove into the water at 7-years-old and his mom dove in after him and he popped up like a buoy laughing and I had to buy my friend a new $600 rod for his fun splash. Of course, his mom almost had a heart attack and was not too happy with him popping up laughing."
Pumping Plant Project Manager Marsalis Roddy started working for the USACE Memphis District about one and a half years ago, in the summer of 2018. Marsalis said he is appreciative of his parents, and also has his own memorable stories to share.
"They both created a quintessential environment where my siblings and I participated in a lot of fun and inspiring activities," Marsalis recalled. "For instance, my dad let me fly a Cessna plane while sitting in his lap when I was around 5-years-old since he knew I had a developing interest in aviation. In my sixth grade year, he used his position as a loadmaster in the United States Air Force to organize a field trip where my entire class observed the planes, aircraft simulators, and facilities at the old Memphis Air National Guard base on Democrat Road. I remember feeling pretty cool, and it being a joyful experience being able to shadow my dad as he led my classmates around the base during the field trip."
The two haven't spent too much time working together directly, but they do cross paths occasionally.
"I haven't been able to work a lot with my dad within the USACE Memphis District, but outside of work, I have been his assistant on his soybean farm in Mississippi," Marsalis said. "Working with my dad on his farm was pretty inspirational because he remained optimistic and motivated despite the numerous obstacles we would face. Despite our humble resources, he's always had a plan to execute the goals on the farm."
Marvin said that Marsalis is an excellent equipment operator from handling the tractor to the combine. He has no bad habits, and Marvin could teach him the right way because farming is inheritably dangerous.
"It's like working with him on the farm," Marsalis' father said. "My sons are always bringing outside perspective of an easier way of doing a task. I'm proud that, although they don't want to farm, they got exposure to what goes into farming and the hard work involved."
Marsalis said his dad also taught him and his brother the value of faith in God, grit, loyalty to one's family, helping others, and never undervaluing oneself.
"These values have coalesced and helped my brother and I develop into the men that we are today," Marsalis added. "I also greatly attribute him with my sense of humor. Growing up, we would watch a lot of Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO."
Since he let Marsalis watch many good HBO shows growing up, he repays the favor by giving his dad a heads up on good shows to watch on streaming services.
"Also, I've taught him the major clubs, players, countries and tournaments within European club soccer and why Lewis Hamilton is the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) in Formula 1 racing," Marsalis said. "Hopefully, we get a chance to attend a European soccer game or Formula 1 race for a hands-on lesson."
Proud doesn't even begin to describe the feeling Marvin gets when he thinks of his son.
"I'm proud of him being a man of his faith," Marvin said. "A man that set goals and achieved them. A man who is very humble. A man who cares about his family and people in general. A man who's a professional. A man who does not give up. Most of all, a man who instilled the character that was taught to his Mom and I and we passed that down to our young men."
This father and son pair are probably a duo many fathers and sons try to emulate, especially if they work together. It makes sense that they made a pact years ago that looks a little something like this: "We're 'The Three Amigos' and best friends," Marvin said. "He's my best friend, confidant, and a son that I'm very proud of. Marsalis and Myles were the two Amigos that always looked out for the Old Amigo. Love you and very proud of you, son, and there's nothing you can do about it!"
In response, Marsalis had this to say: "Love ya. And, P.S. The future is now, old man. Haha."
Building strong is what this father and son both love and are paid to do. But the relationship they have was built strong because of the values their family was raised upon, much like that of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Both the relationship and this organization have these values to thank for the success experienced. We are grateful for people like Marsalis and Marvin Roddy for sharing and instilling these ideals with everyone who enjoys knowing them.