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Family Bonds at the 104th

BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- 'I just wanted to make my parents proud,' is a common sentiment shared by military personnel when asked about their inspiration for joining the military.
Military members serve for many reasons; duty, honor and country are always a common thread. However, for many Massachusetts Guardsmen serving in uniform is a family tradition that spans generations.

Here at the 104th, several members boast a family legacy that runs deep. The unit has many families who have served including the Martin/Crowther family, the Bolducs, Chapmans, Krutkas, Muttis, Cekovsky's, Keefes and many, many others. The legacy is found at many Air Wings but the bonds in Westfield are particularly strong.

One of the more notable 104th families is the Keefes. Following in the foot-steps of Maj. Gen. George Keefe, retired Adjutant General, his 4 sons have also chosen to serve. Two, Tim and Pat, work full-time as law enforcement officers. Patrick and his two brothers Gary and Jim are serving in the National Guard.

Currently Col. Gary Keefe, the Assistant Adjutant General for the Mass Air National Guard, and newly promoted Col. James Keefe, the 104th Fighter Wing Vice Commander are serving in the Massachusetts Air National Guard while Maj Patrick Keefe is an officer in the Army National Guard.

Gen Keefe was very candid in his interview stating, "Their mom (deceased) and I are extremely proud of our sons and their accomplishments in life as outstanding members of the military and their communities all involved with youth programs, members of organizations and devoted family members with outstanding wives and children, 11 total."

The family history is not just extended on through the officer corps; Tech. Sgt. Kristin Martin has been part of the Wing since she was 5 years old. Although she didn't officially join the unit until she graduated high school, Martin can recall accompanying her mother Master Sgt. Terry Crowther, to drills from the earliest age. "Sometimes we would go to meetings in the morning, then my sister and I would sleep in the hygienist chair," she fondly remembers. "We regularly attended family days and air shows-I was always on the base."

A Goshen native, Martin always knew that she would join the military. "I was 17 when I enlisted in the Wing, I didn't want to join the clinic, I had already done 10 years," she laughed. "I needed a change of scenery."

Martin ultimately enlisted and serves as a production control specialist with the Maintenance Operations Flight and has over 10 years of service. She was recognized as the NCO of the year for 2008.

Master Sgt Terry Crowther, Martin's Mom, always encouraged her kids to look at the Guard as a career option. "Their whole lives, they knew about the Guard-they knew I went on trips and I always made it a positive experience. Things have changed and the training pace is such that today you can't bring your kids to drill--back then we were able to and I think it helped influence them," she said.

Kristin observed, " I grew up here , I just turned 28 and people here have known me since I was a kid. The responsibility you take on here as a 17 year old is awesome. You are taking on that responsibility in an environment where people are mentoring you and showing you how to deal with problems. I have gone through tough times over the last ten years and my colleagues have always been there to help."

She considers the 104th a part of her family. "I had no idea that I had pneumonia and one day I fainted at work. My co workers took me to the hospital and made sure I was OK-they were worried about me and continued to check on me," she said.
"You don't see that sort of camaraderie in a civilian job," she added. "Colleagues become lifelong friends." A younger sibling, Aimee, looks up to Kristen and will consider joining the unit when she graduates high school.

"I was so proud of Kristin when she joined the Guard and graduated basic training," said Master Sgt. Crowther. "We are very close and it is great to be able to work with her," she said.

1st Sgt. Lynne (Foley) Bolduc hails from a military heritage that is typical of a 104th member. Her brothers, Ronny a retired Tech Sgt. and Major Scott Foley, a Security Forces Squadron commander at Eglin AFB, provide a wealth of experience and a source of support to 1st Sgt. Bolduc.

"My brother Ronny joined me when I decided to enlist in the Wing," she said. As a commander, Scott can give Lynne Bolduc insight when dealing with issues relative to the leadership of the Wing. "I can talk to him about various issues and I benefit from his experience and insight," she said. I am able to ask him what he looks for in a 1st Sergeant and bounce ideas off each other.

"We can discuss situations relative to officer and enlisted matters as well as the distinction between active duty and Guard," she related. "Of course, here we have the Guard perspective, but it is important to be aware of how active duty approaches things. Having a resource that you trust on active duty and is in a command role is helpful. You ascertain information much easier and I know that I am getting the most accurate and timely information," observed Bolduc.

A 19 year member of the 104th, Bolduc always considered herself the "Private Benjamin" of the family and never thought she would make it this far. "I was the little girl with long nails and all the jewelry," she recalled. "Earning the diamond and becoming a 1st Sergeant was like fulfilling a dream."

Having family members in the same unit has its pros and cons and can present some command challenges. "I can't supervise my husband and 1st Sgt Tim Mutti cannot be a first shirt to his brothers but overall it is an asset," she said.

"It is a great Wing and we are lucky to have a mission here," she said. "I love my job, love what I do and hope to do it for many more years."