FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. – Each November, Month of the Military Family usually recognizes families for supporting a parent or child serving in the Armed Forces. For the Foster sisters at the 144th Fighter Wing, military family has a profound and unique meaning. For these three sisters, their desire to be close to each other brought them together as Airmen.
Chief Master Sgt. Diana Foster, 144th Force Support Squadron superintendent, Master Sgt. Elida Foster, 144th Medical Group dental assistant, and Master Sgt. Lindsay Foster, 144th Maintenance Squadron unit deployment manager, bring different capabilities to the Wing but share similar passions: prioritizing family, honest communication and service.
The Fosters did not start their careers enlisting in the Air National Guard, but they eventually came together and have been serving at the 144th FW since 2008.
“We,” Elida said, referring to Diana and herself, “joined at around the same time in 1997. We wanted to go to college and have college benefits, so we joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves at first.”
Lindsay enlisted for similar reasons in 2004 and served about four years as an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force before joining the Air National Guard.
“I wanted more structure, and I wanted to get my career started,” Lindsay said.
Elida and Diana, who are closer to each other in age, went to basic military training together and were in the same flight.
“Going to basic training together made it so much easier,” Elida said. “I was assigned as an element leader, so I didn’t get to spend as much time with her. Having her there definitely made basic training easier.”
The Foster sisters also had a lot of support from outside BMT. Their father served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps for 10 years.
“He was very supportive of us joining the U.S. Air Force,” Elida said. “It wasn’t intimidating to go to basic training either because our parents knew of the expectations and prepared us for them.”
Having relatives who are familiar with military expectations is beneficial, especially when one of the Foster sisters is activated or deployed.
“Our parents step in the most, and if they are unable to, then one of [my sisters] will step in,” Lindsay said. “We create a group plan to figure out what to do while the other person is gone.”
“We also give extra love to the kids when their parent is gone,” Diana added.
Time apart takes its toll on the Foster clan, but their familial ties bring them close to home and each other.
“It’s hard being away from my family,” Lindsay said. “That’s why I decided to use the Palace Chase program to transfer from the U.S. Air Force to the Air National Guard. I was tired of being away. We stay here because we are so close.”
When they are all home, the Fosters enjoy spending time with each other.
“On the weekends, we’ll all have lunch together after church with my parents,” Lindsay said.
Competition among the Fosters does occur, especially with fitness expectations and requirements, but they still support each other.
“We are very competitive when it comes to our physical fitness. We always achieve high fitness scores. We’re all very proud of our scores,” Elida said. “Even though we’re all competitive, we all try to help each other with that. Sometimes, we’ll send each other videos of ourselves working out and ask each other how our form is.”
In addition to prioritizing family, the Fosters also emphasize honest communication.
“It’s important to be honest with each other,” Diana said. “Especially when considering career and personal life. I don’t want them to make mistakes.”
“It’s true,” Elida agreed. “Chief has told me things in the past, and it wasn’t until I learned the hard way and realized, ‘Oh, [she was] right, I should have listened to [her] from the beginning.’ We are honest, supportive and make constructive criticism without tearing each other apart because we’re all going to make mistakes in our lives.”
It’s not always harmonious between the Foster sisters. Just like any family, they occasionally get into disputes.
“It usually happens in our sister group chat,” said Diana. “We’ll get upset and then take some time apart. [Later, we’ll] ask each other if we’re over it, and then we’re fine. We eventually move on.”
“We try not to take it personal,” Elida said. “I know when Chief is speaking to me, it’s from experience and knowledge. We definitely appreciate each other’s life experience. We know it’s being said with respect and out of love.”
Another major value of the Foster sisters is their desire to serve and give back to others.
“Serving has to be in your heart,” Diana said. “The military has been beneficial for us to develop as people, but it’s in our hearts. It has to be in your heart to give back to others and to serve.”
Elida added, “To be a service member also means to understand what sacrifice is and to come together and to support each other.”
The Fosters are familiar with the sacrifices military service entails, and they credit their capability to continue to serve to their support system.
“We’re very thankful to have the opportunity to serve,” Diana said. “I don’t think we’d be able to do it if we didn’t have our parents.”
The Foster clan honors honest communication, service, and, above all, their family. Their love for each other and their love of service to others strengthens their sisterhood and makes them a unique military family.
“I’m proud to serve with them,” Lindsay said. “I’m proud of where we all are in life. We have our jobs, we’re homeowners, we’re all working on our education, and we have our health. We’re good.”