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Military

By Navy CPO Mary Popejoy

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An Austin Family Tradition
(February 5, 2011)

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NORFOLK, Va. (Feb. 3, 2011) – There are many families who have a long history of military service, but there are only a few that can say all of their children have served on active duty in all four military branches—three at the same time.

Greg and Dale Austin, who hail from Toccoa, Ga., are the proud parents of four sons. Three of them are currently on active duty; the fourth finished active duty in 2002.
Zechariah Austin, a former Marine who was honorably discharged in 2002, smiles for his official photo prior to graduating Marine Corps boot camp. Courtesy Photo
Zechariah Austin, a former Marine who was honorably discharged in 2002, smiles for his official photo prior to graduating Marine Corps boot camp. Courtesy Photo
Airman Josiah Austin smiles for his official photo prior to completing Air Force Basic Training, Jan. 15, 2010. Courtesy Photo
Airman Josiah Austin smiles for his official photo prior to completing Air Force Basic Training, Jan. 15, 2010. Courtesy Photo
Army Sgt. Jeremiah Austin smiles for his official photo Courtesy Photo
Army Sgt. Jeremiah Austin smiles for his official photo Courtesy Photo
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nehemiah Austin smiles for his official photo, Feb. 3, 2011. Courtesy Photo
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nehemiah Austin smiles for his official photo, Feb. 3, 2011. Courtesy Photo
Greg Austin father of Jeremiah, Josiah, Nehemiah and Zechariah, served in the Navy from 1972-1977. He was honorably discharged from the Navy as a submarine sonar technician second class petty officer. Courtesy Photo
Greg Austin father of Jeremiah, Josiah, Nehemiah and Zechariah, served in the Navy from 1972-1977. He was a  technician 2nd Class Petty Officer. Courtesy Photo
“My wife and I are proud that our sons have chosen to be a part of the uniformed services, and we hope that our seven grandchildren will make the same choice,” said Greg Austin, who served in the Navy from 1972-1977 as a submarine sonar technician. “We believe there's a privilege, and a responsibility that comes with being an American and that privilege is service.”

His sons' current service spans three services: Petty Officer 3rd Class Nehemiah Austin, U.S. Navy, from 2007- present; Army Sgt. Jeremiah Austin, 1995-1999 and 2004 - present; and U.S. Air Force Airman Josiah Austin, Jan. 15, 2010 - present. Their brother, Zechariah Austin, served in the Marine Corps as a TOW gunner from 1995-1999 and 2001-2002.

“I picked the Navy because my father and his father were both enlisted in the Navy. I hope if I have a child they would enlist in the Navy as well,” said Nehemiah Austin, currently assigned to Commander, U.S. Second Fleet in Norfolk, Va.

“I picked the Army because I wanted to be a paratrooper,” said Jeremiah Austin, currently stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., as an airborne infantryman.

Josiah Austin chose the Air Force because of its breadth of experience and depth of value.

And even though his military service in the Marine Corps is over, Zechariah remembers what made him decide to join the Marines.

“I joined the Marines after talking to my mother,” said Zechariah Austin. “She asked what I wanted to do when I grew up and I told her I would love to be a pilot. She mentioned that she had always loved the Marines dress blue uniform, bearing and core values. That was pretty much the end of that debate in my mind.”

Their service to country wasn't planned, but the connection they have because of it makes their love for each other even stronger.

“I'm fascinated by the recurrence, generation after generation of our families' service,” said Jeremiah Austin. “Having a brother that has served in four branches of service is something special. I'm beyond proud of all my brothers and their decision to serve.”

“I am obviously proud of all my brothers,” said Zechariah Austin. “Jeremiah has risked it all in combat and come back with his body and mind intact. Nehemiah entered a challenging job field, enlisted in a time of war, and showed discipline and perseverance in completing his training. Josiah just finished boot camp, so we're all really excited for him right now,” he added.

The father, Greg Austin, remembers his days of Navy life fondly, and how his kids were too young to remember his time in uniform. He did try to instill a sense of gratitude and service in each of them. As they wear the uniform, they remember why they serve.

“I'm most proud of the parts of me and my family that serving this nation brings out of us. The piece of you that wants to deploy to keep a younger man home, or to keep pushing through the pain so you don't let down your squad, the impact you can have on your service branch by training whole generations, or simply realizing that by picking your tired, ragged behind up and going back overseas because you're a part of something much better and much greater than you'll ever be on your own,” said Jeremiah Austin.

“The Air Force concept of personal responsibility and striving for excellence are not empty mantras to be repeated soullessly, but are in fact ancient promises that speak of a greater sense of purpose and ability. One day I hope to be able to say I was an American airman, faithful to that proud heritage; to the tradition of honor and legacy of valor,” said Josiah Austin, currently stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas in support of civil engineering

As they continue their journeys as an intel specialist, airborne infantryman, civil engineer and civilian, all the brothers agree that their love of country and family can be summed up in just one quote.

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds blood with me, shall be my brother; be ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition,” King Henry V.
By Navy CPO Mary Popejoy
Commander, U.S. Second Fleet
Copyright 2011

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