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Father and son legacy leaving its mark on the 552nd Air Control Wing

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Add up all the years the Bunting family has served in the U.S. military and the number comes out to 57. When Senior Airman Samuel Bunting enlisted into active duty in the fall of 2007, he became the fourth-generation member of his family to serve in the military to include his great grandfather, grandfather, uncle and father.

Airman Bunting's great grandfather volunteered in the U.S. Army and served during World War I and served for four years. His grandfather served in the Signal Corps for 20 years. His uncle and father served in the Air Force serving four and 27 years respectively.

While getting trained in knowledge operations management during tech school at Keesler AFB, Miss. he put Tinker at the top of his list for his first assignment. It was the ideal choice because his family lived in Oklahoma City and his father worked at Tinker.

His got his first assignment to Tinker and subsequently became the second Bunting to work for the 552nd Air Control Wing.

"Wholly cow! That's great," said his father, retired Lt. Col. Larry Bunting, after finding out that his son was moving back home.

When Airman Bunting began working with the 552nd Maintenance Group Commander's executive staff, his father, a New Jersey native, had recently retired as the chief of staff of the 552nd ACW. Mr. Bunting is a master air battle manager with over 4,700 hours on the E-3 and was stationed at Tinker in 1981, 1997 and finally in 2002.

"If each generation chooses to serve, it's definitely a good thing," said Mr. Bunting who was commissioned through Officer Training School in 1979 so that he could travel around the world. His 27 years of active duty took him to places like Western Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific and South America.

Being in his early 50's with a family to support, Mr. Bunting refused to sit back after retirement. He secured a job at the 557th Aircraft Sustainment Squadron as a civilian U.K. AWACS program manager for sustainment.

Mr. Bunting has been involved with the AWACS now for more than 29 years and Airmen Bunting has added an additional two years of service to the AWACS community. Airmen Bunting is getting ready to deploy soon and he has aspirations of achievement beyond the 552nd ACW.

"The thing I remember most about my dad growing up as a kid is the memory of him coming home in his flight suit," said Airman Bunting. "I knew my dad was a flyer and that got me interested in wanting to become a pilot one day."

He's hoping to complete his Community College of the Air Force degree in information management as well as an undergraduate degree in history one day so that he can work his way to Officer Training School to become an officer and a pilot. Once he reaches that point, he hopes to reach for the skies and fly "heavies."

When he's not thinking about becoming a pilot, he usually spends his weekends with his family.

"The relationship between me and my dad has always been close and now we have more common ground," said Airman Bunting. "In fact, even my friends come over the house or call my dad asking his for his advice about things."

Having a retired lieutenant colonel as a father with his years of experience provides Airman Bunting easy access to good mentorship. Access is as simple as a quick phone call or a visit home.

When both of them were asked what they thought was the best part of being in the military both agreed that it was the people they worked with.

"You meet different people everywhere you go and it's the people you work with that helps us enjoy going to work every day," said Airman Bunting.

"People make all the difference," Mr. Bunting added.

People like the Buntings are definitely making a difference.