Story and photo by Rick Emert
A young enlisted Soldier overseas for the first time, then Spc. Timothy Milway met a memorable boy at a middle school in Hungary.
Milway had volunteered for a humanitarian visit to the school in which a group of Soldiers would speak to the schoolchildren.
As the children went from display to display, Milway noticed a boy who was followed by many other children as they looked at an array of U.S. Army vehicles and equipment on display at the school.
Strangely, this seventh-grade boy in a little town more than an hour away from the capital, Budapest, spoke perfect English. He was acting as a young translator for the schoolchildren who were in awe of the American Soldiers visiting their school.
Although he didn’t catch the boy’s name on that visit in 1997, Milway would come to know him well more than a decade later.
Milway, now a warrant officer, helped run the ammunition supply point in Taszar, Hungary, while deployed in support of Stabilization Force. He had volunteered for many of the humanitarian visits to local orphanages.
“That was the only school I visited,” said Milway, now with 60th Ordnance Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade. “I went to a lot of orphanages. I volunteered for as many as I could go on, because it was my first time in a foreign country. It was just a passing moment in time – something you might never think about ever again.”
Fate had another plan.
While on temporary duty at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., to train for an upcoming deployment, Milway was speaking to a Soldier from his unit, Sgt. Tamas Toth. In one of their conversations, it came up that Toth had lived in Hungary as a boy.
“I never really knew he was Hungarian,” Milway said. “Once I found out, we were talking about the country and how much I liked it there.
“I started telling the story about going to this middle school, and he almost had a heart attack. He said, ‘No way.'”
Toth asked Milway for more details about the school he had visited.
“It was the same exact school. The colors, they were working on some areas of the school. I was shocked,” Toth said.
It’s surprising that the two met at all. Although his family is Hungarian, Toth was born in Norwalk, Conn., and lived there until he was 5.
“My family moved around a bit. They moved to the States and tried to start all over again – the all American dream type of deal,” he said. “When I was 5, my parents decided to move back to Hungary, because they were homesick. They wanted to be around their family. They moved back, and I started to go to school there – from first grade to seventh grade.”
Toth moved back to the States the same year that he and Milway had first met, and the notion to join the Army had been set.
“I started eighth grade over here and graduated high school,” Toth said. “It was in me every day – thinking about joining the Army, how cool that was.”
It was Sept. 11 that sealed the deal.
“9/11 was definitely one of the big factors,” he said. “I was in New York City that day. I was … with some friends and we got caught up in the middle of that. I already had plans to join the military, but once that happened I knew it was definitely what I was going to do.”
Six years and three deployments later, Toth is in the same military occupational specialty and unit as that young Soldier he met a dozen years ago. The two will deploy together to Iraq later this year.
“It’s definitely a good part of this story, how we met under strange circumstances and now we get to actually deploy with each other and work with each other,” Toth said. “I feel pretty good about it.”
Although the two have told the story many times, Milway said he is still amazed at how things transpired.
“The sheer coincidence that I ran into him while he was in seventh grade in a country I was deployed to and, not only did he join the Army, but he became the same MOS as me. It’s just mind blowing.”