Family heritage, Air Force heritage go hand-in-hand

  • Published
  • By Maj. Doug Leedy
  • 92nd Contracting Squadron Commander
My dad likes to tell stories. I can rarely relate them to the situation of the moment, but they are all matter how many times I hear the same story.
     The common theme to his stories is family. He was the second youngest of ten children, grew up on a farm, milked cows every morning before school, loved his dogs, fought with his siblings, felt the bite of a willow branch when he misbehaved, shared a bed with his younger brother, etc. The stories are endless.
     Needless to say, I've learned allot about my family from my dad's stories. I've developed pride for my uncles who served in the Pacific during WWII, for my dad, who was Lt Gen Charles Westover's personal driver in England while he served as Commander of the 7th Air Division, for one of my aunts and her husband, who were Christian missionaries in Japan shortly after WWII, and even for one of my crazy cousins, who gave Evil Kenevil stiff box office competition jumping motorcycles.
     What I really learned from my dad was our heritage...those people and events that define us as a family.
     My Air Force family has a strong heritage, too. As much as my family heritage swells my heart, my pride in our Air Force heritage swells it even more. I devour the Air Force History blocks in PME and I enjoy chatting-up retirees in the BX at lunch.
     There's a line in The Airman's Creed that states, "I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor." Being faithful to one's heritage is difficult without knowledge of that heritage! One doesn't have to read a 500-page book or develop an organized research plan. Sometimes, a single spark of curiosity followed by a quick Google search gives enlightenment.
     When I moved to Fairchild, I learned of our Wing's recent challenges with split operations. Moses Lake is close, but it's definitely not five minutes from base housing. Oddly enough, I also learned that 17 years before Lt Gen Westover called my dad out of his bed above the General's garage in the middle of the night for a ride to Base Ops, the same, but younger, man was organizing and moving the 396th Bombardment Group from Mountain Home Army Airfield to Moses Lake Army Air Base, Washington. I discovered my personal connection with our local Air Force heritage.
     My family heritage blends at multiple points in history with my Air Force heritage. It can be a bit like playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, but I've discovered many connections over the years.
     However, as interesting as I find both my family and our Air Force history, I can't help but think about and appreciate the future heritage we're building together today.