Building a family legacy: Three generations of family members serve at same Air National Guard unit
By Staff Sgt. Adam Juchniewicz, 130th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 08, 2017
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Col. Randy Huffman, 130th Airlift Wing vice commander, shares a long, three-generation military history of family service in the West Virginia Air National Guard, but more specifically at the 130th AW in Charleston.
As he prepares for his retirement from the 130th AW, his sons, Staff Sgt. Kyle Huffman and Senior Airman Adam Huffman, both assigned to the 130th AW Aerial Port squadron, will carry on the family legacy of military service in the WVANG. Randy’s father, retired Senior Master Sgt. Danny Huffman also served at the 130th AW, enlisting in June, 1959.
The Huffmans are truly an example of what it means to serve our country. They have demonstrated this not only through three generations of sacrifice, but also by their example of commitment to their local community. The Air National Guard carries a long-standing tradition of providing a sense of pride in one’s community, as Guardsmen typically serve in their neighboring area or elsewhere within their home state.
Randy began his military career by enlisting in the West Virginia Air National Guard in December, 1980 on his 18th birthday. Not knowing what he wanted to do with his life, his father brought him to drill that December and that’s when Randy’s career trajectory changed.
He worked in the Aerial Port squadron for eight years before receiving his commission in 1988. He graduated from the West Virginia Institute of Technology with a BS in mining engineering technology, and later received his Master of Business Administration from West Virginia Graduate College.
Randy quickly rose to the position of Mission Support Group commander during his tenure as a traditional Guardsman, before eventually taking over as the vice commander of the 130th AW in 2015.
His decision to stay in the Guard after his initial enlistment was a tumultuous one as he was focused on family and his civilian career, but he later reflected upon the opportunities the ANG had provided him and hasn’t looked back.
When two of his three sons were considering joining the family business of the WVANG, it was something that the colonel never pushed them towards.
“[Dad] has always shown us what it is to serve our country, it’s just part of how we were raised,” said Kyle, who serves as a 130th AW Air Transportation Journeyman. “My dad taught us that if you have the ability to serve your country, you should do it. It’s a small example that we can do to return the favor.”
Kyle’s brother, Adam, completely concurred with his brother’s thoughts and expressed that he has always seen his father as one who was “leading by doing.”
Like the generations that would follow in his footsteps, Senior Master Sgt. Danny Huffman enlisted not many years after the WVANG came to fruition. He enlisted at 17 years old, between the summer of his junior and senior year in high school.
Danny wasn’t really sure what the Air National Guard would entail and recalled thinking he was going off to a Boy Scout camp for basic training. “I didn’t know any better,” he said.
During that time, opportunities were limited in the area and Danny was able to work through the ranks and leave a lasting impression along the way. He worked in the Aerial Port squadron first, setting a family tradition of two more generations to come.
Danny said of the 130th AW, “This unit was my salvation. When I came back from basic training in 1959, there weren’t any jobs to be found. The coal mines weren’t hiring then, but the Air National Guard gave me a job.”
When reflecting on the family tradition of military service, Randy offered, “It’s been very meaningful to first see my father come up through the ranks, and then he was able to see me do it as well. Two of my three sons are in the unit too, so it truly means the world to our family. The Air National Guard was easily the best career decision that I made.”
Randy also said of his own career, “I learned that throughout my time in the military, our mission is bigger than any one individual. That ‘big picture’ idea has helped me to stay focused over the years and keep things in perspective.”
It is not often that multiple generations all serve in the military, let alone the same branch. But the Huffmans may have set a precedent by all serving in the same wing for more than almost sixty consecutive years.
As the Air Force and the Air National Guard both celebrate their 70th birthday this year, the Huffmans are making their own history, too. All three generations have served proudly at the 130th AW and are proud to call the West Virginia Air National Guard home.