CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When people speak of the 130th Airlift Wing, a small Air National Guard unit in Charleston, West Virginia, one common theme comes up.
Now, it usually isn't literal, it is representative of the close-knit community and camaraderie which ties the Airmen of the unit together. In this case we are talking about one particular family who are spread across different squadrons within the Wing.
Lt. Col. Andrew Farmer, the 130th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, and his three daughters: Staff Sgt. Alexis Farmer, who serves in the 130th LRS, Senior Airman Carly Farmer who serves in the 130th Mission Support Group and as of Nov. 3, 2018, Airman Basic Halle Farmer who, upon completion of training will serve as a crew chief in the 130th Maintenance Group. Lt. Col. Farmer's father also served the unit for many years.
Inspired by the tradition and legacy set before her, as well as the desire to one day become a pilot, Halle was sworn in by her father, in front of a C-130H that she will one day work on herself.
"I've always looked up to my dad and sisters, so to be able to serve with them now is a great honor," said Halle. "I'm very happy to keep the tradition going."
In addition to the pride of serving state and country and following in her father and sisters' footsteps, her next biggest reason of joining was the extensive benefits for college.
The West Virginia National Guard Tuition Assistance Program will pay for 100% of her college tuition, as well as the Montgomery GI Bill along with the GI Kicker which add a considerable amount per month as well.
She will also receive a career field bonus of $20,000 throughout her enlistment and after completion of training return to the unit as an Airman 1st Class. In fact, all three sisters have used the benefits provided by the 130th to make college life easier.
Between all the benefits, the satisfaction of serving and upholding the legacy, it is easy to see why this family has kept the tradition of serving.
"With our eldest daughter we talked at length about the Guard and the recruiter spent some time answering questions," explained Lt. Col. Farmer. "It was a little hard, just being a member didn't automatically define the Guard to my children."
After the oldest joined and the other two got to witness firsthand what she was doing, the rest was rather simple. Once the kids realized the educational benefits, understood the Guard culture, and accepted the fact a semester or two away at training would not wreck their social life, then the rest was easy.
Between three generations of one family, the Farmers have served nearly five decades and in a state where tradition, patriotism and family values are held high, they have exemplified the meaning of "Guard Family."