SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, ILL. – Two sisters who are five years apart are serving their country at the same time, at the same base, and in the same career field, working together every day.
They come from a military background, but Staff Sgt. Katryn Ellis, 375th AMDS NCO in charge of occupational health, was the first in her family to join the Air Force. Her younger sister, 19-year-old Airman Emma Booth, 126th Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health technician, would soon follow in her footsteps.
“I wanted to go in to the Air Force ever since she joined in 2013,” said Booth. “I was just starting eighth grade, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Although Booth was inspired by her sister’s actions, she still had dreams of her own.
“I wanted to go guard. That way, I could get school out of the way because I want to commission later on in life.”
In order to bring Booth’s goals to fruition, Ellis suggested Booth stay with her. Their parents travel often, and Booth would need a steady place to live to be able to join the Air National Guard. As a bonus, Booth could help watch her two-year-old niece when her brother-in-law, also an active duty military member, travels for work.
The plan was set into place, so Ellis helped her sister take the next big step.
“I walked down the hall and into the guard unit,” said Ellis. “I asked if they had anything available for medical. They gave me three jobs, and one of them happened to be public health, which isn’t initially what she wanted. But as fate went, she ended up getting public health.”
Since Booth’s guard unit is located here, she was sent to the active duty section for seasoning and upgrade training where she studied under Ellis and grew to love public health.
They mimic their grandfathers, who were sent to the same location at the same time during the Vietnam War.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Vietnam,” said Booth, explaining how their paternal grandfather, “Pawpaw”, saved their maternal grandfather, “Pop”, after he was critically wounded. “Pawpaw went and took Pop and put him on the chopper. He put his hand on his chest and said his goodbyes, thinking that he was going to die. Turns out, Pop was sent to the nearest hospital, and he survived.”
Booth then explained how their father met their mother after meeting Pop in New York City at a reunion held for the Vietnam veterans. Their father was on his way to Germany when his flight got delayed where Pop lived.
Pop jokingly said, “Just come stay with me. Maybe I’ll try to get you married to one of my daughters.”
After their father came back from Germany, he really did marry Pop’s daughter, and they had four children altogether.
“I was always like mother hen growing up because there were three of them and I was the oldest,” said Ellis. “I think that kind of stayed with me. Being an older sister made me a better supervisor because a lot of the Airmen I have are the age difference between her and I, so I kind of get the things they say. I also don’t let her get away with anything, and that’s how I am for all of them.”