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Like father, like daughter in this Air Force family

Published: 03:58PM June 14th, 2012
Like father, like daughter in this Air Force family

Tech Sgt. Elizabeth Moody

Master Sgt. Jim Clements, 446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron NCOIC of Optometry at JBLM McChord Field, receives his oath of office for his last reenlistment in the Air Force Reserve, June 2, from his daughter, new 2nd Lt. Monica Clements. Jim is approaching 32 years in the military, while Monica graduated from the Air Force Academy, May 23, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that most caring fathers would simply want to be a strong positive influence on their children’s lives. But when they end up following in Dad’s footsteps, Papa couldn’t be more proud.

For one Team McChord family, a daughter didn’t just follow in her father’s footsteps, she created her own path.

On May 23, Master Sgt. Jim Clements, 446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron NCOIC of Optometry, witnessed his daughter Monica, transform from “Daddy’s little girl” into a brand new second lieutenant during her commencement at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I was shocked, amazed, and so very proud of her,” Jim said upon receiving the news that Monica had been accepted into the academy. “I gave her a big hug. Then she went out and pinned the girl she wrestled during a wrestling meet at her school.”

The sergeant admits he was strict when raising the new lieutenant, and the rest of his six children, but he didn’t always stress the “military way” as the be-all-end-all in preparing his kids for the game of life.

“He showed me one side of the military lifestyle, growing up through the Reserve,” Monica said, who majored in behavioral science at the academy. “He didn’t force the military on any of us kids, but we just gravitated to them naturally with it being so normal to us.”

Jim taught his kids the lesson of independence, so they would be able to make these types of choices for themselves.

“I wanted her to be independent,” Jim, who will have 32 years of military service in November, said. “I have always told (my kids) that there is really only one person you can rely on and that is yourself. It really comes down to you as an individual to get things done. Be honest. Have integrity. And it’s okay to be smart.”

The senior Clements also said a friendly sibling rivalry doesn’t hurt when growing up either.

“Monica is a twin,” Jim, who works as an optician for Group Health, said. “She and her twin brother have both competed amongst each other for grades and Daddy’s attention. They had stellar grades and collegiate aspirations.”

But Monica was able to get Dad’s attention during her academy graduation, when he not only pinned on her second lieutenant boards, but also gave her her first salute and Silver Dollar handshake.

“It was very exciting and touching,” the lieutenant said. “I love how the military has come full circle in our family so smoothly and naturally. I am humbled and honored to be such an important part of a very important person’s military career and life.”

As the enlisted Clements’ career draws closer to retirement, Monica’s career as an officer blooms. The overlap transpired when Monica carried out her first duty ... giving the oath of office to Dad for his last reenlistment over the June Reserve weekend.

“I think she can make a great career in the Air Force,” Jim, who lives in Roy, said. “I see Monica doing very well at anything the Air Force is going to give her. She can always call dad up for advice. She has done it several times already.”

Monica doesn’t plan on leaving the Air Force anytime soon.

“I want to take the time to get my master’s (degree) at my first duty station and hopefully use a master’s in psychology to get work after the military — which won’t be for a long time if things pan out right,” she said.

Monica is in the process of moving to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., where she will be a force support officer at Air University.