Past and present collided recently when Naval Linguist Abigail Burns posed in front of EA-6B Prowlers displayed outside of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
In 2001, when Burns was just 6 years old, Her father, Jerry, took a photo of her standing in front of Prowlers the same location. At that time, Jerry was undergoing Navy flight officer training.
Twenty years later, the younger Burns finds herself following in her father’s footsteps, training to fly in airplanes on Whidbey Island.
At first Abigail wasn’t sure if she would remember Whidbey Island because she only had the vaguest of memories of the air station.
“But, I came up through the base, and it brought back all of the memories of being in the hangar and hanging out with my dad,” Abigail said.
She had to re-enlist to gain her ticket to NAS Whidbey, and she is currently training to be a cryptolinguist aboard an EP-3 reconnaissance plane.
“Her re-enlisting was probably the proudest moment of my life as a dad,” Jerry said. “I was happy beyond relief.”
While Jerry said he wasn’t sure joining the military was something Abigail would do when she got older, he said it wasn’t unexpected.
In the military, his daughter has had the opportunity to travel the world and stand out on the flight line while he was a flight instructor at Pensacola, Fla.
“Obviously, traveling around the world and seeing the military planted the seed,” he said.
The father and daughter have more in common than just training at NAS Whidbey. Both originally considered joining the Air Force before settling on the Navy.
But, after Jerry was rejected by an Air Force recruiter for not finishing high school, he joined the Navy. The Navy would later send him to the University of Colorado.
Abigail also considered joining the Air Force, but when she realized she could be a linguist in the Navy as well, she decided to follow her father’s path.
“I would much rather be Navy,” she said. “My dad was Navy.”
The Naval heritage extends even deeper in the Burns family, according to her father. Abigail’s grandfather served in the Navy during Vietnam and, before that, her great-grandfather was a merchant marine in World War II.