Mothers inspire children to be Reservists

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Candice Allen
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
As children, they attended air shows. They attended family day. They attended promotion ceremonies. 

However, it was the way their mothers wore the Air Force uniform that solidified their answers to the age old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" 

Now grown up, two children of 446th Airlift Wing Reservists have answered, "I want to be just like my mother." 

With more than 50 years of combined military service, Chief Master Sgt. Janice Kallinen, chief of the 446th Mission Support Squadron, and Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Milligan, superintendent of the 446th Operations Support Flight, have each seen the start of a family legacy. 

Sergeant Milligan's son, Staff Sgt. Gary Washington, is a 313th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. His enlisting in the military was not surprising to this mom. 

"His room was filled with camo netting, a poncho liner for a bed spread, and G.I. Joe posters plastered around the room," said Sergeant Milligan. 

Since the age of six, Sergeant Washington knew he wanted to join the military. "I wanted to continue the family tradition of serving the country. At sixth grade camp, I wore camies the entire time. I would go on church youth group hikes in full military gear," said Sergeant Washington. 

After five and a half years with the Marines, Sergeant Washington stepped into civilian life. He said he missed the military, so his mother, Sergeant Milligan approached him about joining the Air Force Reserve. 

"The Air Force Reserve is the best job networking agency. If you are interested in a career on the civilian side, you will know a Reservist who works in that career," Sergeant Milligan told her son. "In the Reserve, you get the best of both worlds." 

So, he joined the 313th AS in November 2003. 

"I knew when he joined the Reserve he finally got to do what he had always wanted to do - fly. I was elated when he joined," said his mother, Sergeant Milligan. 

Airman First Class Kristina Hansen wasn't quite as determined at the age of six, but seeing her mother put on her uniform did spark interest. 

"I grew up in the military," said Airman Hansen, a medical technician with the 446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron. She has fond memories of attending air shows with her mother, Chief Kallinen. 

Similar to Sergeant Washington, joining the military was a fairly easy decision for Airman Hansen. "I look up to my mother a lot," she said, as she quietly sipped coffee in a cup resembling her mother's. 

"I watched her set goals and accomplish them. I get my drive from her." 

Watching her mother, Chief Kallinen, climb the ranks in the Reserve made Airman Hansen look in the direction of her mother for a career. 

"The Reserve gave me a goal and direction after high school," said Airman Hansen.
In addition to her Reserve duty, Airman Hansen works as a student hire for the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and is a full-time student at Pierce College. 

Just like any mother when a child leaves the nest, there is some pain and heartache involved. With tears filling her eyes, the Chief recalls the very day her daughter, Airman Hansen, left for basic training. 

"Leaving her at the airport was the hardest thing I ever had to do," she said. 

As a mother, it was heart-wrenching for Sergeant Milligan to see her son, as a Marine, deploy to Baghdad. "It was my Air Force family who held my hand throughout Gary's deployment," said Sergeant Milligan. 

Chief Kallinen and Sergeant Milligan are of one mind concerning helping their children leave the nest and explore their options. 

"I wanted him to be happy with the choices he has made," said Sergeant Milligan. "We looked at all services and for six months, we discussed at length his choices."
That same discussion occurred in the Chief's home as well. 

"Don't join to please me. Make sure you are doing this for yourself," said Chief Kallinen. "We sat down and discussed college tuition and what was the best route for covering that expense." 

Mothers are mothers regardless of occupation. But, one thing that sets these mothers apart is the uniform they wear. In addition to being mothers, these women are Airmen their children want to emulate.