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Three generations, one call to duty

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- During the past 18 years, the two Airmen watched each other grow and mature. They both finished their education and started their careers. One has rank on his sleeve and the other on his collar, but both wear the same name tapes, LaMothe.

The father and son active-duty duo are stationed together here.

“I’m third generation Air Force. Both of my grandfathers were in and my dad is in so this is kind of a family business,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen LaMothe, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron logistic planner.

Eighteen years ago, Lt. Col. Daniel LaMothe, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander, was attending college in California as a pre-med major, and was looking for a way to pay for school. After hearing about the health promotions scholarship program for the military, he started to look into the program that would help him, his wife and son, Stephen.

“Simultaneously, I discovered the military medical school, the Uniformed Services University in Maryland and I applied to it and got an interview. After that I was sold, hook, line and sinker with the idea of being a military physician,” said Daniel.

What started as a way to pay for medical school soon became a way of life for the family as following in his father’s footsteps, Stephen enlisted in the Air Force five years ago.

“I happened to be stationed at Lackland when he enlisted,” said the proud father. “We were able to go to his graduation, and he went to technical school there too.”

After completing tech school, Stephen was sent here, where he spent the last several years establishing his reputation and starting his family.

Meanwhile, Daniel was applying to the 12 command positions available throughout the Air Force.

“I remember I told my wife, ‘Hey, McConnell is on the list,’ and we thought there is no way we would get it,” said Daniel. “We were really nervous actually; before we applied, I actually asked him if it would be okay if I applied because I didn’t want to crowd him out.”

The LaMothes said a major benefit to them, is being able to use each other as sounding boards since they really don’t see each other on base because they are in two different career fields and chain of commands.

“I go home at night, sitting back over dinner, we talk about leadership philosophy and things like that,” said Stephen.

For Daniel, he said he appreciates picking his son’s brains over the enlisted perspective.

“He offers things that honestly wouldn’t come logically to me especially in a command position like this because sometimes people don’t speak freely or they feel like they can’t speak freely to the commander. It’s nice to have a perspective from Stephen saying, ‘Hey dad, this is what the Airmen think of this.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think of it like that way,’” said Daniel.

Stephen said this is the first time he has been able to have a family support system, which is especially important to him as he recently deployed and his wife is expecting their first child.

“It’s something we never expected to experience,” said Stephen. “My little brother is 14 and just started school at Derby High School. It’s been kind of unique because I get to back to high school football games [where he is in the band] and watch him play and cheer him on.”

Stephen explained that his brother was eight or nine years old when he left for basic.

“I missed out on a lot of his developmental years so it’s cool to have this window of time, where I can hang out, drink soda and play video games with him,” he added.

At times, when people find out Stephen’s dad is a commander, they often make assumptions about his pull over Stephen’s career.

“The assumption is that I am going to calling up Gen. Goldfein [Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force] asking for favors,” laughed Stephen. “The general consensus is that my dad is going to pull some strings and get me really cool assignments and get me quick promotions, but I have to put in the work the same as anybody else. There is no advantage.”

Stephen took one step closer in following in his dad’s footsteps, when he applied to officer training school.

“I’ll find out in December if I made it or not. If I don’t get picked up, then I’ll apply to the next one,” said Stephen. “I feel like a lot of good things are going my way, but if that doesn’t happen,
I’m really happy to be enlisted in the Air Force.”

Regardless of what happens next, the father and son duo will continue to make the most out of their time being stationed together and they will continue to strengthen their familial bonds.