Father, daughter work same mission in Iraq

Senior Master Sgt. Jessica D

***image1***A father, who is an Air Force master sergeant stationed at Ramstein, 86th Maintenance Squadron, and his daughter, an airman 1st class, stationed in Nebraska have found themselves on the same mission in Iraq.

He is sure of retiring from the Air Force with more than 20 years served, and she is on her first enlistment, still aware of all the opportunities out there.

Here is how they both found themselves in the Air Force and what it
means to them.

In 1980, at age 16, Senior Master Sgt. Earon Bolton, currently with the 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron Maintenance superintendent at Ali Base, Iraq, quit school because he felt it was not teaching him anything useful.

“I saw nothing wrong with it (quitting) because my father and older brother had done the same thing,” said Sergeant Bolton. He was living in South Houston, Texas, at that time, and started doing odd jobs at different businesses, but none seemed to promise a stable future.

“I did not want to be a janitor or fry cook all my life,” said Sergeant Bolton. “I had had several encounters with local law enforcement … and after visiting my brother in a medium security prison facility at Huntsville, Texas, I quickly decided it was time to leave Houston.”

Having always had the dream of becoming a pilot, he decided to check out the Air Force in 1981.  

“I readily admitted my ignorance of the Air Force to the recruiter,” said Sergeant Bolton.

Not even having a high school diploma, much less a college degree, he quickly learned that his dream was not a reality. He opted for what he called the second best thing – to take his General Education Degree and study for the Air Force entrance exam.

“I joined the military to change myself,” said Sergeant Bolton. “I felt the Air Force would give me a chance to learn a trade and escape the problems of living in a large city.”

His father was adopted and never knew his family, which was not the life he wanted. Instead he desired to see the world and feel good about himself for what he could do.

The Air Force was a go and on his second assignment he ran into someone he couldn’t bring himself to live without.

“I met my wife when she was 16. When I found out her age I immediately panicked, looking for a way to back out of our conversation,” said Sergeant Bolton. “Several days passed and I just couldn’t get her out of my mind. We dated for six months and then I asked her to marry me.”

Despite Yvonell’s father and mother not being happy about it at all, they knew how stubborn she was and gave in to the idea.

“Looking back I can definitely agree with them, especially after having a daughter of my own” said Sergeant Bolton.

Now their daughter is in the Air Force. She is Airman 1st Class Ashleigh Bolton and is an airborne systems engineer on the KC-135. Strangely enough, she is also deployed in support of the same Air and Space Expeditionary Forces her father is supporting.

“It is actually comforting to know that my father and I are going through this together.” said Airman Bolton. “It helps us understand each other better and share something at the same time.”

She describes her personality to be much like her dad’s and explained that he had a lot to do with her joining the Air Force.

According to Sergeant Bolton’s wife Yvonell, it didn’t surprise them when Ashleigh decided to join the Air Force. She says that her daughter is very bright and knows a good opportunity when it presents itself.

Airman Bolton said she knows that her being in the Air Force makes her dad happy and he feels she is well taken care of.

For her, there is a strong possibility that she too will make the Air Force a 20-year career just like her father.

“I’ve let them (my kids) know that the life I chose was not an easy one,” said Sergeant Bolton. “I want them to take advantage of the opportunities in life.”