A legacy of service

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Killian
  • 6 ARW PA

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The legacy of military service runs deep in the Westbay family, with a history spanning four generations of service across the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and now the Air Force.

Senior Airman Tristan Westbay, a cyber transport systems specialist assigned to the 6th Communications Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, is the latest in his family line to don the nation's cloth.

Tristan's decision to join the military was influenced by his family's service and a desire to earn his education without relying on his parents for financial support. Choosing the Air Force allowed him to continue his family's tradition of military service while carving his own path.

“Every one of my relatives was very supportive of my decision to join,” said Tristan. “I decided to join the Air Force because it was the only branch that none of my family had joined, so I saw a chance to venture into uncharted territory.”

His father, Jeff Westbay, served in the Navy during the late 1980s and early 1990s, participating in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a former member of the Special Warfare pipeline, Jeff later transitioned to helicopter maintenance before leaving the service as an E-4.

“My service has been quite a wild ride,” said Jeff. “It’s had its ups and downs, and a lot of dark moments, but in the end I was able to have a massive impact on the world and do some insanely cool stuff that I'll never forget."

Tristan’s grandfather, George Westbay, completed two tours in Vietnam as an engineer and vehicle maintenance lance corporal in the Marine Corps. He later received full disability benefits due to health complications caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the war. Despite the adversity he faced, George’s legacy of service and hard work continued after his military career as a blacksmith and mechanic.

In World War II, Tristan's great-grandfather, John Westbay Sr., served in the Army, possibly as an infantryman. Details about his service are less clear, as he did not frequently discuss his time in the military. After leaving the service, he worked as a handyman and tiler.

The family's military history also extends back to World War I with John's great-great-grandfather, Joe, who served in the Army during the conclusion of the conflict.

As the latest generation in a family with a rich history of service, Tristan is proud to carry on the legacy of hard work, discipline, and patriotism exemplified by his forefathers.