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Service in 167th Airlift Wing uplifting for families

September 12, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

Editor's note: Certain jobs seem to run in some families. In this series of stories that began Monday, we feature families in which members share the same or similar professions that serve the public.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Chief Master Sgt. John Alderton was two blocks from the Pentagon when it was struck by an airplane seven years ago. Four years later, he deployed to Afghanistan as part of a leadership team put in place for that country's first elections.

"To be that close to the Pentagon and then deploy as part of the war on terrorism brought it all home," he said.

The people of Afghanistan traveled for days, on foot or by camel, to vote, Alderton said.

His time there gave him a better sense of what some take for granted in this country, he said.

Helping with Afghanistan's first election was the most rewarding experience of his 25-year Air National Guard career, he said.

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Alderton, of Martinsburg, is the Wing Command Chief, or top enlisted person at the 167th Airlift Wing. He followed in his father's and brother's footsteps when he decided to join the unit near Martinsburg.

His father, Tech. Sgt. Robert Alderton, served 22 years with the unit. His brother, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Alderton, is still serving after 35 years.

"Dad pointed me toward the Guard," Richard Alderton said. Just out of high school, he wanted to obtain technical training, and the Guard offered it. He now works full time as the Air Field Manager.

Richard Alderton has deployed more than a dozen times over a 20-year span to Panama, where the Guard helped provide support to embassies throughout Central and South America, he said.

But for Richard Alderton, the most meaningful work has been right here in the United States, when he's deployed on flood details throughout West Virginia.

"It's closer to home and felt the most rewarding," he said. "Helping people trying to help themselves but didn't have enough resources to get them through a devastating time."

His son, Joshua Alderton, was in the Guard from 2000 to 2006. Father and son were deployed together on a flood detail to McDowell County, W.Va.

"We served alongside each other. That was something very special to me," he said.

He also speaks of his younger brother's service with pride.

"I've seen him in operation. As the older brother, it thrilled my heart to see he was out there."

The Nye family

Col. Roger Nye admits he had no grand patriotic feeling when he signed up to serve with the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard. Thirty years later, he's a pilot and the wing commander. And he "can't imagine doing anything else," Nye said.

He has deployed to Panama, Puerto Rico and Baghdad. While in Baghdad for four months in 2005, he worked with the Iraqi media to get out information about the good things the coalition was doing for them, Nye said.

Though Nye had been to "the desert" himself, it was hard to watch his son, Tech. Sgt. Scott Nye, deploy.

"His first deployment to the desert, knowing where he was going ... It's one thing to go yourself, it's another to see your son do it, knowing what he's in for," he said.

Nye's wife, Sylvia, and another son, Joshua, also served in the unit, he said.

For the Nye family, the Air Guard is "definitely a family affair," he said.

He never pressed family members to do what he was doing, Nye said, but he was proud and honored by their service.

"It was great to have them as colleagues," he said.

Although Scott Nye grew up around the Air Guard, he wasn't sure if he wanted to join. But he wanted some direction, so he gave it a try.

"I'm glad I did," he said.

Now, like his father, Scott can't imagine doing anything else, he said.

For Scott Nye, the Guard is definitely a family affair, as it helped create his own family.

While he was attending loadmaster school in Arkansas in 2002, he met the woman who is now his wife, Master Sgt. Shannon Nye. Now a health service technician, Shannon was doing office work at the loadmaster school when she met Scott.

She moved to West Virginia in 2003, and the two have been married for five years.

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