Sisters Tess (left) and Tobey White, from Columbus, Ohio, unwrap presents on Christmas Day,
Dec. 25, 2011. Tess is a second lieutenant and Headquarters, Headquarters Company 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan, Joint Visitor Bureau officer in charge, while Tobey is a sergeant and Headquarters, Headquarters Company 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke public affairs specialist. Photo by
Army Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (12/25/2011) - What started as a simple
journey for U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Tess White turned into a race against
time to see her sister, U.S. Army Sgt. Tobey White, before her tour
of duty ended in Afghanistan.
Tess' journey began Dec. 9,
when she left Fort Richardson, Alaska, and traveled around the
world, worrying she would miss her sister, Tobey, who was near the
completion of her deployment. Her worries were unfounded as she
arrived at Forward Operating Base Salerno Dec. 21 and reunited with
The sisters, Columbus, Ohio, natives, have a rich
family history, both parents are former Marines, and someone from
their family has fought in every war since the Civil War.
Now, the two sisters take their own place in their family's history
as the first two females to fight in a war. Tobey is the first
female in war and Tess is the first commissioned officer. Their mom,
Hollie Andrews, was the first female to join the military.
Tess, the officer in charge for the joint visitor bureau,
Headquarters, Headquarters Company 4th Brigade Combat Team
(Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan, said
that she and her sister have always been in competition with
one another, and joining the military was no different.
Both sisters competed to be the first commissioned
officer. When Tobey, a public affairs specialist for HHC,
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force
Duke, first entered Officer Candidate School, Tess was still
in college going through Reserve Officer Training Corps and
was thrilled for her sister, until she realized one
going to commission before me and out rank me. That's not
fair,” Tess said.
Tess also added that her sister has
still yet to salute her.
“I've saluted you,” Tobey
said with a lighthearted stare. “Remember after you received
Tobey joined the enlisted side
after an injury prevented her from completing Officer
Candidate School. After her injury, Tobey was faced with the
choice of leaving the Army or re-classing. She spoke with
her father, who gave her blunt advice.
quitters. Do want you want to, but we are not quitters,” he
Her father's words inspired her to continue
with an Army career, re-classing as a public affairs
“Failing out of OCS was probably the
best thing for me because it gave me the opportunity to work
in public affairs,” Tobey said, “which is what I wanted to
do anyways. I was very pleased with the end result.”
For Tess, serving her country has always been a
life-long dream. In high school she tried to enlist in the
Marine Corps, but her father, a former Marine Gunnery
Sergeant and veteran of Desert Storm, made a deal with her.
“'Give me one year of college; if you don't like it,
then you can join.' That was the deal we made,” said Tess.
Tess eventually joined the ROTC program at Ohio
State University, where she received a two-year ROTC
scholarship and earned her commission.
She also met
her husband at the Leader Development & Assessment Course at
Fort Lewis, Wash., who is currently finishing field
artillery training and hoping to join the 2nd Battalion,
377th Field Artillery Regiment, of the 4th ABCT.
running joke between the sisters and their parents is whose
service is the toughest. Their mother, a former Marine Corps
corporal, enjoys teasing her daughters.
one particular moment when she attended a military ball
while a cadet.
“I wore my Class A's, and my mom tells
me ‘I never thought one of my daughters would ever wear
those greens,'” said Tess. “I was about ready to cry.”
Tobey added that when she was trying to choose which
service to enter, her parents fully supported any choice she
made telling her, “'It's your life. Choose the service that
is the best fit for you.'”
Upon signing the contract,
however her parents teased her by saying the Marines were
As Tobey's tour comes to a close and
Tess' begins, the sisters look forward to spending Christmas
with each other and opening their presents together.
“I lugged a few gifts with me just to have her open them on
Christmas,” said Tess.
Tobey also left her sister
with words of encouragement.
“Your deployment will be
what you make of it,” she told her younger sister. “If you
stay focused, work out, and don't get complacent, the time
will fly by.”
“Take care of Dad,” Tess told her
sister. “Mom will be fine, but you know Dad will spend every
other day worrying.”
Tess then proceeded to give her
sister one more good tease about why she is better.
“I'm airborne and she's not. Airborne, Hooah!” joked Tess.
By Army Spc. Eric-James Estrada
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