LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --
The Air National Guard is known for its Guard family mentality. While this means many different things, you will often find generation after generation of families working in the same unit, even within the same or similar specialties. Family cohesion within the Air National Guard is no exception. The 189th Operations Group, the Air National Guard’s center for training aircrew and supporting the C-130H mission, is home to two loadmasters who share the same passion for the aircraft and the responsibly their job entails.
Chief Master Sgt. Gary Hendrickson and Senior Airman Ashlyn Hendrickson are a father-daughter duo who are both loadmasters assigned to the 154th Training Squadron. You could say flying runs in their family. Gary explained that generations of flyers and military service members played a significant role in his and his daughter’s decision to become flyers and military service members. While the two don’t always work side-by-side, they both agree they love flying and wouldn’t trade their experience for anything.
“We don't really interact a lot at work,” Hendrickson said. “I’m busy with admin stuff and she’s always busy with loadmaster responsibilities and the Guard’s non-profit organizations. It’s weird for me to call her Airman Hendrickson at work, but I have some great moments to recall, like her first training flight.”
Ashlyn also expressed her favorite moments she shared with her father, which most children would not have the opportunity to experience. Seeing how much her father loved his job, going to work every day gave her the motivation to join the Guard as a drill status Guardsman while she was attending college.
“One of the best moments together since going was the day my dad got to tack my wings on me for the first time after loadmaster school,” she said. “Sometimes I forget about us working together, but it does come to play walking in the shadow of a Chief. I’ll be graduating from officer training school in October and I asked my dad to give me my first salute. That will be an unforgettable moment for both of us.”
The two both joined the Guard for different reasons. Gary came to the Guard from active duty and Ashlyn came in after high school to take advantage of the many benefits offered by the Air National Guard. While they are working toward individual goals, they understand the importance of working toward the success of the wing and the Air National Guard.
“There is a lot of pride that goes into being a member of the Air National Guard, especially as a career enlisted flyer with a unit that is held in the highest regard within the C-130 community,” said Ashlyn. “I wear our diamond patch with pride and being able to share that same patch and uniform with my dad is a special thing most people don’t ever get to experience.”