Children Continue Family's Legacy of Service
(January 17, 2010)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2010 – While most parents carry around
a tattered, wallet-sized photo or two of their kids, Mary
Scott has about a dozen 8-by-10s ready for display.|
Upon request, she whips out her family portraits with the
speed of a Wild West six-shooter. Her now-grown children are
posed in various scenes outside, mostly clad in camouflage.
All six of her children, she tells people with pride, are in
|Clockwise from left, West
Point Cadet Adam Scott, Army 1st Lt. Kerney
Scott, now Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Alec Scott, Army
Capt. Andy Scott, now Air Force Capt. Karoline
Scott and Army Capt. Kate Gowel pose at their
parents' house in Lorton, Va. The Scott children
all chose to join the military, carrying on a
legacy of active-duty service that's lasted more
than 130 years. Courtesy photo
“My children are my heroes,” she said. “My husband and I
always let them know how proud we are of them and how proud
they should be.” |
Five of the Scotts' children are in the Army, and one in the
Air Force – and all are scattered throughout the world. This
year, like many before, only half of her children made it
home for the holidays, but she takes the separations in
“I grew up in the military. My husband was in the military.
It seems very normal to me,” she said. “I know this
lifestyle very well.”
Scott's father, Army Brig. Gen. Richard J. Tallman, was a
graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He
was killed in combat in Vietnam in 1972, the summer after
she finished her freshman year at college. She watched her
mother struggle as she shifted from Army wife to single
mother of seven.
“We had no money; it was difficult,” Scott said. “But my Mom
got her degree and worked hard. She's also a hero of mine.”
Scott later became an Army wife herself, marrying a U.S.
Military Academy graduate in the same West Point chapel
where her parents were married in 1949. Over the course of
her husband's 30-year career, the family moved more than 20
times across the country and world, with all six kids in
tow. But despite these sacrifices and the heart-wrenching
loss of her father, Scott didn't hesitate when, one by one,
her children sought her blessing to serve.
“My husband and I believed as parents, the best thing we
could do is be respectful and loving and not get in the way
of their development,” she said. “The military, to us, was
like the children choosing to go into the family business.”
The military tradition runs deep on their father's side as
“We've had a soldier on active duty in the U.S. Army in my
family for more than 130 years,” retired Army Maj. Gen.
Bruce Scott said. “This notion of service to the nation is
something that I was raised with in my family.” The
military, the general added, “is in my family's DNA.”
The couple's house, perched at the edge of the Potomac River
in Lorton, Va., is adorned with family pictures and mementos
that reflect their rich military history. Mary's favorite is
a photo of all six of her children in uniform, balanced on
each other's backs to form a pyramid.
“I never would have predicted that all six would join,” she
said. “A few of them really surprised us.”
Her eldest, Kate, gave them a shock when she came to them in
her junior year of high school with some big news: she
wanted to attend West Point.
“I had no clue she was interested in West Point,” Mary said.
“She never mentioned it. When she told me, you could have
knocked me over with a feather.”
Kate said she applied on somewhat of a whim.
“I felt like I would be losing out if I didn't try,” she
said. “I enjoyed West Point quite a lot, and met many great
friends there, including my husband.”
“And when her younger siblings saw that she could do it,”
her father chimed in, “I am positive it motivated them as
Three of Kate's siblings – Andy, Kerney and Adam – followed
in her footsteps and chose West Point. Adam is a sophomore
there. But West Point or not, all six are excelling in their
chosen path, Mary said.
Kerney, an Army first lieutenant stationed in South Korea,
took to the skies as an aviation officer and Black Hawk
helicopter pilot. Andy and Kate, both captains, are military
lawyers. Karoline, the sole blue uniform in a sea of Army
green, is a public affairs captain in the Air Force and is
deployed to Iraq. Alec is in the Individual Ready Reserve
while he studies to be a Catholic priest at Mount St. Mary's
Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He later plans to serve as an
Army chaplain. And, Adam is doing well – though undecided
about his career, he said -- at West Point.
Kate returned just days before Christmas from a yearlong
deployment to Iraq. She and her husband, Army Capt. John
Gowel, also a military lawyer, and their two boys, Matt and
Sam, celebrated with a trip home for the holidays.
Surrounded by Christmas trees and her father's cherished
nutcracker collection, Kate chatted with her mother while
her husband entertained the children. The closeness they had
built while Kate was gone was evident; he often reached down
to hug or kiss his sons. “He has done a great job taking
care of them and everything else since I have been gone,”
Mary also pitched in. She often travels around the country
to lend a helping hand to her kids and did her best to help
John, who is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, while Kate was
“It's important to be proactive, send packages and write
letters,” she said. “By doing so, you can help raise
awareness of the military here as well. It's good to remind
people that there are others at war.”
Along with supporting her children, Mary volunteers full
time as the chairman of the board for the National Military
Family Association. Helping military families is dear to her
heart, but her family remains her No. 1 priority, she said.
Her busy lifestyle keeps her from worrying about her
children, she noted, particularly since all six have joined
in a time of war. Karoline is on her first deployment to
Iraq; Kate just returned, and Andy has deployed twice.
“It is worrisome,” she acknowledged. “I know, having lost my
father in Vietnam, that casualties can happen to anyone --
it's not just someone else. But I take my mother's advice:
‘You simply can't worry about it.'
“Worry can be paralyzing, and you don't want to project
those feelings to your children,” she said.
An occasional late-night phone call can temporarily shake
her usually calm demeanor. “But I try not to focus on the
negative,” she said. “I spend a lot of time doing work on
behalf of military families and support my children any way
A few missed holidays pale in the light of her children's
contributions to the nation, Mary noted.
“We're the ones left behind,” she said. “I always tell [my
children], ‘This is your time in history. You are where the
action is and you're fighting for us, for your country and
for the lifestyle we all enjoy.”
And when they do make it home, Mary said, it's amazing to
see how much they have in common.
“It's just a nice side effect of all of them being in the
military,” she said. “They have a great support system in
each other. They can speak the same military language.”
Along with Kate, Alec and Adam also made it home for the
holidays. Their teasing banter encompassed many topics, but
often touched on their shared military experiences.
“The military was a tremendously prominent and formative
force in my life since I was a young child,” Alec said. “It
was really the only lifestyle we ever knew as a family.”
Adam echoed his older brother's thoughts. “I think we have
seen the good the Army can do,” he said, “and have simply
taken advantage of the opportunity.”
General Scott credits his wife for their children's strong
sense of service, and often says she's the most important
reason they decided to serve.
“In my first 24 years in the Army, Mary, the kids and I
moved more than 20 times,” he said. “Yet for each move, Mary
always made the next location seem more exciting than the
Mary said she loved every minute of their military
lifestyle, from the seemingly countless moves to the
exposure to new countries and cultures.
“I loved moving, and my husband loved his work,” she said.
“I think we were able to project those positive feelings
onto our children. I believe by growing up around the
military, they developed a sense of service and a fondness
for military life. That desire to serve, sense of mission,
stuck with them.”
While they would have supported any path their children
chose, both parents said they couldn't be more proud that
their children chose such a selfless one.
“I like to think that they had a good upbringing as Army
‘brats,' and as such, they were inclined to follow in my
footsteps,” the general said. “But I honestly believe the
reason runs much deeper. They are all wonderful people, and
I believe that they feel it is an honor and a privilege to
serve the nation.”
Article and photo by Elaine Wilson|
American Forces Press Service
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