HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) — When Senior Airman Kara Watts was a college student and searching for inspiration, she said she only had to look as far as her mother’s military service.
Now, Watts and her mother, Maj. Tobie Wethington, an information management information technology fellow at Defense Information Systems Agency, are both serving on active duty.
“Growing up, I was always very proud that my mother was in the military,” said Watts, an administration specialist assigned to the 66th Comptroller Squadron. “Watching my mom advance through her career really inspired me to follow in her footsteps.”
Wethington’s career began with her enlistment on Christmas Day 1991. She then spent nine years on active duty before transferring to the New Mexico Air National Guard. After 9/11, the then-staff sergeant said she decided to continue her career on active duty. Armed with a bachelor’s degree, she was commissioned in 2002. Now, she calls herself a proud mom.
“I am honored that my daughter would choose the same path that I chose,” she said.
Service runs in the family
The mother and daughter Airmen are not the only ones in the family who have served in the military.
“Each of my grandfathers served in the military, as well as my uncle who recently retired from the Air Force,” Watts said.
It’s her lineage that the 21 year old taps into when faced with a decision regarding her career.
“When I need sound advice regarding my career, my mom is usually the first person I call,” Watts said, adding that her entire family is always there for her. “My mom is my first stop when it comes to my career because she’s the most knowledgeable and trusting person I know — she’s been in my shoes as a young Airman.”
Watts said that special bond with her mother became apparent early in her Air Force career.
“One of the more memorable moments for me in my career was when I was first issued my Air Force uniforms while I was in basic training,” Watts said. “I was accustomed to seeing my mom in uniform and now I’m wearing it, which is something I will always cherish.”
For her mom, it was a different milestone in the young Airman’s career that stands out.
“Watching my daughter flourish in the Air Force has been very rewarding,” she said. “Being able to attend her promotion ceremony in June to senior airman — after being selected below-the-zone — is something that really meant a lot to me and made me very proud.”
‘Blazing her own path’
Wethington added that while members of the family often compare the two and the success they’ve had, the officer reminds them that Kara, “far exceeded all that I had accomplished before I was a senior airman.”
The accomplishments are many. Watts has served as the Patriot Enlisted Association president, is a member of the Patriot Honor Guard, serves as secretary of a local Toastmasters chapter, helped organize a book drive for the underprivileged, was a project officer for last year’s Women’s History Month and has volunteered in the local community.
“I could not be more proud of her, and I am glad that she is blazing her own path,” Wethington said. “I look forward to seeing what she will do in the future.”
Watts said it’s very comforting to know that she has such a supportive family.
“It makes me proud of myself to know that I am following in the footsteps of my family, and that every time I put my uniform on, I’m not only representing the Air Force, but I’m representing my family,” she said.