KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Air Force families have always played an essential role in the mission. The Leigh Family’s impact however, is huge on the 334th Training Squadron and the Air Traffic Controller apprentice course.
Stanley Leigh, 334th TRS Air Traffic Control master instructor; SSgt Justin Leigh, 334th TRS ATC instructor and Wynell Leigh, 334th TRS flight secretary, all make up a family that works side-by-side in the 334th TRS, training Airmen.
“We all love the Air Force,” said Stanley. “I retired after 30 years of service, throughout my career I’ve been stationed in different parts of Florida, Texas, Utah and Mississippi. My family has been by my side for the whole ride.”
Stanley is no stranger to Keesler, he joined the Air Force in 1989 as an air traffic controller and went through the air traffic controller apprentice course here.
“I was growing up during the time of the space race,” said Stanley. “I was really interested in space and exploration. I went to an Air Force recruiter and he told me that I could control the air space as an air traffic controller, I told him to sign me up!”
After leaving Keesler, Stanley went to Patrick Air Force Base where he met his now wife, Wynell.
Wynell, who grew up an Air Force brat, was ready for the challenges that come with being a military spouse.
“I knew nothing but the Air Force growing up, so I was able to adjust into the role of a spouse pretty well,” said Wynell. “There were things that I did have to learn as Stan ranked up and began to TDY and deploy more frequently. Becoming a single parent while he was gone was always difficult, but with the support of all the different programs that bases offer for spouses, I was alright.”
Justin, Stanley and Wynell’s son, was inspired by his father’s 30 years of service. He decided to join the Air Force and carry on the Leigh family legacy.
“My dad showed me what the Air Force could do for me,” said Justin. “While I was in high school and he was still active duty, he took me up to the tower to show me what he did every day. I talked to the controllers up there and was amazed, that day it struck me that I also wanted to join the Air Force, become an air traffic controller, and follow my father’s footsteps.”
Wynell is grateful that her son decided to join the Air Force and become an air traffic controller like his father.
“The feelings and proudness I have is much more because it is my child,” said Wynell. “Watching Justin follow in his dad’s footsteps is priceless. Not just serving his country but doing the same job and it being natural for him.”
Now, Stanley and Justin are both instructors of the air traffic controller apprentice course, here. A father and son both being instructors for the same course brings a different dynamic to the air traffic controller’s classroom. Justin said he usually teaches the middle part of the class while his father teaches the beginning and end of it.
“It’s cool whenever I teach a class and my son picks up my students and vice versa,” said Stanley. “The students always end up comparing us too. They tell us our teaching styles are very different. It’s never a competition between us though, what matters is our students all graduating and going on to the operational Air Force.”
Wynell is thankful for the unique situation their family is in, but she understands it won’t last forever.
“Stan and I will be here at the 334th until we retire,” said Wynell. “Justin will unfortunately PCS soon. We will enjoy and be a part of every little accomplishment he makes while he is here with us. As we know that this is extremely rare to have both parents and a child working together in the same squadron.”