Military life: It's a family affair|
Posted 5/7/2011 Updated 5/6/2011
by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez
108th Wing Public Affairs
5/7/2011 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The military is known for developing a servicemembers sense of camaraderie. It's like a family that understands each other because of the shared experiences throughout a military career.
The sense of family and camaraderie is much stronger for the Andre, Tiara, Paula and Mecca, because all four siblings serve in the same unit within New Jersey's Air National Guard.
Master Sgt. Andre Williamson, 108th Wing chaplain assistant, was currently deployed at the Combat Readiness Training Center at Volk Field, Wis., preparing for the Wing's operational readiness exercise there. There with him were his daughter, Airman 1st Class Tiara Williamson, and his niece, Airman Paula Daniels. Another niece, Airman Mecca Jennings, stayed behind at home station during the exercise from March 21 through 25.
The Williamson siblings come from a long and rich military tradition that was started by Andre Williamson. He enlisted into the Army 24 years ago still serves with the 108th Wing based out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
"I grew up a military brat," said Tiara Williamson, a public health technician at the 108th Medical Group. "I always thought my Dad was cool and I looked up to him."
Making the choice to also join the Air National Guard was not difficult for Tiara Williamson. Aside from the educational and other benefits she would receive from the military, she said she also wanted to make her father proud.
What better way than to serve at the same unit Andre Williamson is currently serving.
Consequently, three years ago, Tiara Williamson, 22, made the choice to enlist and had her father right next to her as she made her military career decision.
"I walked her through the process and made sure she asked all the right questions," said Andre Williamson.
Although her father was with her throughout the process and also giving her pointers on basic training and technical school, her mother was somewhat apprehensive about her joining the military, said Tiara Williamson.
"My wife was against Tiara joining the service but was still supportive knowing I would be right there with my daughter," said Andre Williamson. "She made us proud when she made the decision to join this great unit."
Now he gets a chance to observe the values he and his wife, Desiree, instilled on their daughter, and how she applies them into the military, said Andrew Williamson.
Today, Tiara Williamson resides with her family at West Orange, N.J., and is currently a student at Essex County Community College in Newark studying Biology and pre-med. She plans on transferring to Rutgers University after she completes her associate's degree.
In addition, she said she plans to make the military a life-long career and hopes to become an officer.
As if having his daughter serve in the same unit with him wasn't enough, right behind Tiara Williamson's enlistment into the 108th Wing was her first-cousins, Daniels and Jennings.
Daniels is the daughter of Desiree Williamson's brother, while Jennings is the daughter of Desiree Williamson's sister.
"It's a family affair," said Tiara Williamson.
Although her interest for the military was started by recruiters, Daniels said having family and familiar faces at the unit is a plus.
Her parents were also supportive of her decision to join the 108th Wing, but having her uncle there was more comforting to them, said Daniels.
She thought it would feel weird to be around her family at the unit, said Tiara Williamson, but now she is happy and looks forward to spending more time with her family while training for the upcoming operational readiness inspection.
"It's great having my dad give me encouragement and pointers during a training class," said Tiara Williamson. "But I also give him a heads-up when he is coming due for medical reasons."
The same can be said for Daniels, since she now has a dual role with her uncle; an Airman and a niece.
"I address him as Master Sgt. Williamson," said Daniels. "But once in a while, out of habit I'll call him Uncle Andre."
Although they are all in different sections within the 108th Wing and don't see each other much during the day on drill weekend, they continue the family bond that has brought them together.
They eat together, catch a movie or go bowling after duty hours, said Daniels, 108th Force Support Squadron services personnel.
"I have the camaraderie of the military, but I also have the family bond," said Tiara Williamson.