Sisters in arms
By Army Sgt. Saul Rosa
/ Published December 02, 2011
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- To what extent would a trooper go to support a brother- or sister-in-arms? Two sisters were separated by hundreds of miles of land and sea, but a promise brought an Army staff sergeant to Guantanamo Bay to pin on her sister's new rank during her promotion ceremony.
The Abbott sisters joined the military within a year of each other, Rebecca joining the Army and Kelly joining the Air Force. Although they were not close in their youth, through their shared experiences of the military the two became best friends.
"I heard she was joining, and it's pretty ironic because I did my basic and AIT (advanced individual training) in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. and she actually attended her tech school down at Fort Leonard Wood also," said Army Staff Sgt. Rebecca. "So we just missed each other."
The Abbotts eventually came to promise one another to pin on each other's E-7 rank.
"We're best friends now, so we just promised each other 'if you made E-7 no matter where you are in the world I'm going be there to pin you on,'" said Kelly. "I feel really lucky to make that happen."
The process to bring Air Force Master Sgt. Kelly Abbott's sister Rebecca to Guantanamo Bay was not an easy one, but with help from the members of the 146th Civil Engineering Squadron the process was completed just in time.
"I put it in and tracked it for her. Her sister couldn't get leave until she got the airline approved," said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Wells. "We've been working on this for a month."
Kelly and Rebecca Abbott represent different sides of the same military. Kelly started her career as an active duty Airman and after four years went to the California Air National Guard.
"To be honest I was always broke, I was like an E-4, so I said let me get out of the military, but then it was hard to find a job and I was on terminal leave, so I joined the Air National Guard," said Kelly. "I thought of it as a temporary plan B type of thing, but my plans have totally changed. I plan on staying in for 20 years now."
Rebecca almost joined the Air Force, but without the guarantee to enlist as a military police officer she decided to join the Army. She enlisted shortly before her sister as a 31 Echo, an internment/resettlement specialist, but after looking into the human intelligence collector military occupational specialty she decided that it was her true calling.
"It was a good decision. The Air Force is very well-known for how well they treat their people and everything, but the Army has its own traditions," said Rebecca. "We have the best of both worlds now. I can tell my Army stories; she'll tell her Air Force stories and it works out well."
Within the military, bonds are made that push troopers to go to the ends of the earth for their brother and sisters-in-arms. In the case of the Abbott sisters, the distance for Rebecca to pin on Kelly's new rank was only a few hundred miles and an ocean. Through the military, the Abbott sisters have forged a link beyond even their family ties.
"I can't talk to my other sister the way I can talk to her," Kelly said.