All in the (Guard) family
By Staff Sgt. Lindsey Soulsby, 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
/ Published October 04, 2015
GREAT FALLS,Mont. -- The Montana Air National Guard is like a big family with a hometown feel. For the Wajer family, the MTANG is their family. Five members make up the Wajer family including retired Master Sgt. Michael Wajer, 1st Lt. Tammy Wajer, Tech. Sgt. Andrew Wajer, Staff Sgt. Ashlee Wajer and Airman First Class Adam Wajer. Together they have served over 58 years of military service with over 41 of them being for the MTANG.
Michael started with what seemed like a tiny ripple back on Feb. 24, 1983, when he enlisted into the active duty Air Force, which coincidently also happens to be his wife Tammy's birthday. With his enlistment, brought a tidal wave of Wajer children to join the Montana Air National Guard. Today his wife and his three children continue to serve the MTANG in multiple capacities.
Tammy joined as a teen with three goals in mind. She wanted to serve her country, travel the world and get an education. She served as an engine mechanic for eight years while on active duty and had a small break in service. This break reminded her she was missing something, which lead her to join the Guard. Tammy has worked in many different jobs for MTANG, including being an Airman Leadership School satellite instructor while Ashlee attended the class.
"No one frowned upon the connection," said Ashlee. "She helped us all equally and it was nice to see her be a leader for everyone."
With her master's degree, Tammy knew the best way to help the MTANG with the conversion from the F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft to the C-130 cargo aircraft was to become a navigator, a critically manned field. She commissioned in December of 2014.
Michael and Tammy are currently on the sunny beaches of Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida, but it isn't all fun and sun for Tammy as she is completing her training to become a navigator. After training at NASP, Tammy will complete her training in Montgomery, Ala., and then return back home to Montana where she will be flying on missions for the 120th Airlift Wing as a fully qualified navigator. She will also be returning to her part-time job as a flight attendant.
Michael joined the MTANG after a six-year service break because he didn't want to throw away 10 years of active-duty service. When it came time for his children to join, he said the Guard was familiar to them because he had been enlisted their entire lives.
"They knew what the Guard had to offer," said Michael. "I didn't push them; I guided them into good career fields."
Andrew joined the MTANG for educational opportunities and to learn a trade. He currently is a student at Montana State University studying mechanical engineering and is a welder for the 120th Airlift Wing. His dreams are to one day own a small fabrication shop.
Ashlee started at the MTANG in the medical flight, but has recently crossed over to work in the aerial port as a traditional Guardsman. She is on a manpower authorization tour in the finance office and attends classes at the College of Technology Great Falls for nursing.
"A lot of people don't know about the guard," Ashlee said "[Dad] always made sure we got a decent job."
Adam is attending technical school at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, to become a firefighter. He knew he wanted to be a firefighter and stay in Montana, so he figured his opportunities to be a civilian firefighter would increase with Guard experience.
In 2014, Michael found himself attending three Air Education Training Command ceremonies; Adam graduated from basic military training, Ashlee graduated Airman Leadership School and Tammy graduated the Academy of Military Science. Michael and Tammy also support graduations and ceremonies of members of the unit when possible, as they consider the Montana Air National Guard as their family.
It is hard for the family to be in training all over the country and not be in Montana together, but the good news is Andrew will be visiting Florida this month.