WASHINGTON – When Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda MacFarlane first donned the traditional “campaign hat” of the service’s military training instructors, she made history.
The man handing her the hat was her father, Tech. Sgt. James MacKay, a military training instructor with the 321st Training Squadron. They are now the first father-daughter duo to serve together as instructors for new recruits.
MacKay and MacFarlane have both had unique career experiences before becoming instructors, but they both noted their shared passion for mentorship and developing airmen. They both joined the Air Force Reserve as training instructors and are now training the next generation of Airmen.
"In my previous positions, I was often responsible for training new members on their on-the-job responsibilities, and to me, that was the best part of the job," McFarlane said. "I felt like I could make a positive impact by ensuring the airmen and noncommissioned officers had the knowledge and tools they would need to get their job done and contribute to the mission. As an MTI, you have the tremendous opportunity to have a positive impact on the next generation of airmen."
A Unique Path
MacKay entered the Air Force as a member of the Michigan Air National Guard in November 1983 and has since been a munitions systems specialist, air traffic controller and a fire protection specialist. He’s served on active duty, in the Air National Guard, and now, the Reserves.
In 2013, MacKay was accepted as an instructor candidate and transferred into the reserves. He credited his personal success to outstanding mentors who encouraged him to complete all of his goals, including graduating from the Defense Department Fire Academy at the age of 47.
"There were many times my mentors set me up for success, both personally and professionally," MacKay said. "I hope to pay that forward and give our newest airmen the tools they need to thrive in today's Air Force."
MacKay, who has another daughter currently serving in the Air Force as an air traffic controller, said he feels an immense amount of pride in both of his daughter's careers.
Family Pride in Service
"I have always been proud of my daughters and their military careers," MacKay said. "When (Amanda) told me she had been accepted into the instructor program, I was thrilled. I think she has the same passion for teaching and mentoring others as I do, and I believe she will find this position as challenging and rewarding as anything she's done previously."
MacFarlane said she’s always been proud of her father's service and professionalism and that she looks up to him for being a positive influence.
"I'm also proud to have this chance to be a part of [basic military training] and to be able to help prepare men and women for their careers as airmen," she continued. "I get to serve alongside my Air Force family as well as my actual family, and that means a lot to me."