An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Scott colonel shares Air Force life with his sons

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Kidron B. Farnell
  • Air Force ROTC West, University of Washington-Seattle Public Affairs
Sentiments from Father's Day linger as the 4th of July comes into view. For three sons who decided to follow their father into the military, these holidays together reflect the spirit of legacy and pride in nation.

Lt. Col. Michael P. Liechty, outbound Headquarters Air Mobility Command squadron section commander, Scott Air Force Base, is father to Capt. Jan M. Liechty, 1st Lt. Kurt M. Liechty, and 2nd Lt. Michael (Russell) Liechty.

The four Liechtys share not only a blood-tie but all commissioned from the same Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment (855); they all serve on active duty, perform in the same primary duty (Air Force Specialty Code 38F, Force Support) and also are Eagle Scouts.

Lieutenant Russell Liechty was commissioned via Skype Dec. 17, 2010, by his deployed brother. Lieutenant Kurt Liechty and Colonel Liechty served together in Afghanistan last winter, sharing the same lodging and learning from each other the lessons of war and living.

"Being roommates, once we got back to our room we'd teach each other ... I learned about the Afghan government through my work and about the Afghan military through what he did ... It's like learning two jobs at once," said Lieutenant Kurt Liechty, Air Force ROTC Detachment 756th Operations Flight commander.

But some habits die hard. Lieutenant Kurt Liechty celebrated a birthday while deployed--and on that February morning, he managed to sleep through two rocket attacks. He sprang out of bed on the third attack, shouting to his father, "Did you hear that?!"

Colonel Liechty responded, "Yeah, you missed the first two; it's your birthday and they are trying to celebrate with fireworks!"

Back at home, the Liechtys continue to learn from their father the way of military life, and from their mother, how to enjoy it. All of the Liechty brothers are married; the elder two have children.

Terri Liechty, mother of seven and wife to Colonel Liechty, is the daughter of a B-52 Stratofortress navigator, Col. Russell C. O'Brien, who passed away in 1972. From her experience as a military dependent, she grew to raise her children with a dependence on tradition and stability. In addition to the three brothers, there are two younger sisters, two older sisters, and 15 grandchildren.

"During our first assignment, I defined the family traditions that were most important to us (daily books and music, nightly dinners and scriptures, Valentine treasure hunts, hosting friend parties, etc.) We made a list of them all and determined that no matter where we lived, we would continue to do them. We did ... It turns out that it doesn't matter so much where we live, but rather how we live," said Terri Liechty.

Lieutenant Russell Liechty, 92nd Force Support Squadron sustainment services officer at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., said the family is, "Very tight-knit, and always has been ... Joining ROTC to eventually serve in the Air Force just felt like the right thing to do. We weren't pressured into it; my dad encouraged us to pursue whatever path we chose."

For elder brother Captain Liechty, outbound 5th Force Support Squadron manpower and personnel flight chief at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., the decision to join the Air Force came from an accustomed lifestyle.

"We joined because that was what we knew, that was what we were familiar with--we all admired our father and he didn't pressure us," said Captain Liechty.

Lieutenant Kurt Liechty agreed. "Even as a little kid, I always felt like my dad did something important and I was proud to say that he was in the Air Force. To join, I couldn't think of any other career that would take care of my family like the Air Force took care of my family growing up."

The specific job load is also lighter for the four Force Support officers, as together they grow to share information--to include mentorship with their brother/son-in-law of the same AFSC. The tally hits five.

Capt. J. Ryan Price, Headquarters Washington Air National Guard military personnel management officer, said, "I knew I was going to pursue the military on Sept 11, 2001 ... I said to myself, 'I'm going to war.'"

Captain Price was commissioned June 28, 2002 and especially enjoys the network of mentorship that has developed among the Liechtys.

"Being that we are all doing the same job in the Air Force, it has provided tons of opportunity to mentor, counsel together over issues, and find answers to questions. We have built in a chain of command that no other officer in the Air Force has ... We have strings of e-mails back and forth over many different issues such as handling a difficult leadership situation, career planning, dealing with disciplinary problems, or finding guidance together in an Air Force Instruction."

Captain Price (in good humor) acknowledged, "The best advantage of having all your brothers-in-law in the Air Force is when they get out of line, I get to pull rank and they have to salute smartly." Captain Price was recently notified of a pending promotion to 'major' later this year.

The five men may work together, but five egos rarely emerge.

Captain Price continued, "When your peers are also your brother/father-in-law, it is truly a non-attribution environment. We are able to get our concerns, issues, and questions out on the table and get the most open and honest feedback you ever could imagine."

The team is selfless not only to their country, but to each other.

Lieutenant Russell Liechty said, "Family is our number one priority. All of us go to great lengths and expense to see each other and spend time together and coordinate leave, etc."

Terri Liechty said the collective family involvement in the military, "Validates our sense of commitment to God, family and country...And amazingly, we have managed many times to coordinate living by one another!"

Coincidences occur in various forms. In May 2011 all three brothers simultaneously attended various service training at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Another reunion is projected for July 4th, 2011 for the retirement of Colonel Liechty after 23 years of faithful service. In the audience will be the reflection of his legacy.

The three Liechty brothers and Captain Price have also planned to pursue at least 20 years of service in the world's finest Air Force. On behalf of his family, Captain Liechty said, "It is much more than a job."

His father added, "It is a family affair."