Blazing her own path

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group
Senior Airman Kara Watts has always been proud of her mother's military service. So after briefly attending college after high school, Watts looked to that service as inspiration when she decided to go in another direction.

Watts and her mother, U.S. Air Force Maj. Tobie Wethington, an Information Management Information Technology fellow at Defense Information Systems Agency, are both currently serving on active duty.

"Growing up I was always very proud that my mother was in the military," said Watts, who is an administration specialist assigned to the 66th Comptroller Squadron. "Watching my mom advance through her career really inspired me to follow in her footsteps."

And for her mom, that makes her proud.

"I am honored that my daughter would choose the same path that I chose," Wethington said, who first enlisted in the Air Force on Christmas Day in 1991 following Operation Desert Storm.

After completing nine years on active duty, Wethington transferred to the New Mexico Air National Guard in 2000. Then after 9/11, the then-staff sergeant decided to continue her career on active duty. She was commissioned two years later in 2002 after completing her bachelor's degree.

The mother and daughter Airmen are not the only ones in the family who have served in the military. The duo is part of a family that has many veterans among them.

"Each of my grandfathers served in the military, as well as my uncle who recently retired from the Air Force," said Watts.

Airman Watts is also married to Senior Airman Johnathan Watts, a paralegal in the 66th Air Base Group Judge Advocate's office.

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."

It's that special bond between a mother and daughter that was evident to Watts in the early days of Basic Military Training.

"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."

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."

And 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 Toastmaster's chapter, organized a book drive for the underprivileged along with her husband, was a project officer for last year's Women's History Month and has volunteered several hours in the local community.

And like many parents, Wethington brags about all that her daughter has accomplished in the first two years of her Air Force career.

"I could not be more proud of her and I am glad that she is blazing her own path," she said. "I look forward to seeing what she will do in the future."

And for Watts, she knows that, wherever the future takes her, she has a supportive family to help her get there.

"It's very comforting to know that I have such a supportive family behind me," Watts said. "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."