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Military heritage inspires Airman

Airman Donald Noah, a former 315th Training Squadron student, his father Col. Donald Noah and his grandfather Ret. Col. Donald Owen Noah, pose after the Airman's graduation ceremony at the Base Theatre, Feb. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Anne Gathua)

Airman Donald Noah, a former 315th Training Squadron student, his father Col. Donald Noah and his grandfather Ret. Col. Donald Owen Noah, pose after the Airman's graduation ceremony at the Base Theatre, Feb. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Anne Gathua)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Nine-year-old Donald Noah flips through the pages of a binder, marveling at thousands of images and information on military aircraft. This binder and growing up in a military family sparks an interest in serving his country and continuing a family tradition that began in the Great Depression.

Ten years later, the young man and two members of his family celebrated the continuation of that legacy. After Airman Donald Noah, a former 315th Training Squadron student, received his graduation certificate on the stage of the Goodfellow Theatre, he rendered crisp salutes to his father and grandfather.

"I am happy my dad and grandfather were here to see me graduate and hand me my certificate," the Geospatial - Intelligence Analyst Course graduate said. "My early exposure to military aircraft helped me in my coursework and it's an honor to carry on the family heritage."

Now stationed at the Ohio National Guard's 178th Intelligence Squadron in Springfield, Ohio, the 19-year-old Airman comes from a military heritage that spans more than 70 years. The Noah family's devotion to service began with an uncle fondly known as 'Uncle Bob" nearly 75 years ago.

"It feels great to carry the torch," Airman Noah said. "Hopefully I can do a job as great as my dad and grandfather."

Both older Noahs said there was no doubt in their minds that he would.

"I know he will serve with pride and honor and I hope that he rides this opportunity to wherever he wants to go," said Col. Donald Noah, the airman's father. "The military lets you go as far as you want and I hope he wants to go far. I know he will, as long as it's fun and he feels as though he's contributing."

Colonel Noah, the deputy commander of the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks City-Base, Texas, said he was really gratified when his son asked him if he could help him join the Air Force.

"It definitely wasn't something that I remember pushing him to," the colonel added. "I just hoped through my example he might find it attractive. I am glad he followed my footsteps."

The colonel said this country is filled with military family generations who join through the examples they see.

"I thank God for that," he added. "It would not happen if we didn't do a good job. It's a testament that we are valued and have a sense of pride in what we do."

Remembering the day he joined the Air Force, Colonel Noah said Airmen who are joining now are more confident and prepared than he was.

"My son is as bright as I was, but there's a big difference," the colonel added. "When I joined, I remember feeling hesitant, not about what I was about to do, but I felt unprepared. Now I sit down and see others like him. They seem more confident. He definitely acts with more confidence than I felt."

Retired Col. Donald Owen Noah, a 30-year Ohio National Guard veteran, said he felt wonderful attending his grandson's graduation.

"I am filled with pride and I want to see him get his college degree and contribute back by continuing his career," he added.

Although his career path has been enlisted thus far, Airman Noah said becoming an officer is definitely not out of the question and he aspires to supersede his father's and grandfather's rank.

That comment caused his father to smile with pride.

"I wouldn't mind having a general in the family," he said.