GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - March madness is not just in college basketball. A photograph of a United States Coast Guardsman and his son are in the final four for a national title.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Bradley Walker says the day he arrived home from his first deployment in September 2015 was a blur. However, what brought it into focus was the moment he picked up his 2-year-old son, Anderson.
"Barring the day that he was born, that was probably one of the happiest days of my life," Bradley said.
Now the photograph, taken as part of a documentary of his family's experience, is in the hunt for top prize in the country. The picture is part of a contest by the Coast Guard called Shutter Shootout, set up like a college basketball playoff bracket.
Bradley's wife Jennifer says reaction from friends and family has been overwhelming.
"It's a big deal for us, but for it to be such a big deal to everyone else just makes it even that much more special," Jennifer said.
The competition continues through Monday night and from all indications, it could be a photo finish. Just hundreds of votes separate the picture and the north division leader.
"We knew going against that photo that we're going to need a big, strong vote for this one," Bradley said.
Jennifer added, "All of the photos were great photos, but I think there's something so special about that connection between the two of them."
Bradley, who is also an officer with the Gulfport Police Department, was a member of Coast Guard Port Security Unit 308 sent to Guantanamo Bay for nine months.
"I just think it's great for him that it's something that as he gets older, we can look back on it," Bradley added. "It's truly a keepsake photo that's going to be part of our life forever."