In 2016, Pentagon data showed that 80 percent of recent troops had at least one relative in the military. For Navy Master Chief Sacha Hasbrouck, that was her dad, George Forrence, who retired as a petty officer first class; for Army Spc. Alexis Jaeggers it was her stepdad, Sgt. Maj. Heath Smith.
Forrence wasn’t the first in his family to join the Navy; that was his father, though only for a blip before the Korean War, he said. He also had an uncle in the Army, who encouraged him to follow his dad into the Navy since the food was better. He worked as a saturation diver, and though the family wasn’t ever stationed overseas, Hasbrouck said she enjoyed that they did travel.
“I might not have appreciated it as much when I was younger,” she said. But she did always know she would follow in her dad’s footsteps.
At 18, Hasbrouck talked to a recruiter, a visit which made her realize she lacked the maturity to join the service. She did odd jobs, including laying tile and working in a swimsuit shop. Hasbrouck returned to the recruiter at 22, hoping to go into EOD, but was a few points short in mechanics on the ASVAB. She found out culinary specialists were getting a bonus, which turned out to be a good fit.
“The galley of a ship is the heart and soul,” Hasbrouck said.
She said that she’s only seen her dad cry two times in her life, and one of the two was at her boot camp graduation.
Forrence counted that they were tears of joy. “Her commander couldn’t say enough good things about her. I was very proud of her.”
Both father and daughter had doubts about continuing their service after their initial contracts. Forrence actually got out and worked as a civilian diver for three years, before rejoining the Navy when jobs dried up. Hasbrouck had a countdown to her last day on her phone – she had gotten married, and was pregnant with her daughter. But it was 2008, and there was a recession. So she stayed in, and on her next ship she had a noncommissioned officer who took her under his wing. Now she’s 17 years in.
Jaeggers didn’t spend a lot of time with Smith while she was growing up; she lived with her dad through high school.
“I knew less about the Army than the average citizen,” she said. After graduating she joined her mom and Smith, who were then stationed in Hawaii. It was there that she decided to join the Army.
“The military’s been good to me; I’ve had some adventures, but I was shocked when Alex said she was joining,” Smith said. “I was expecting it from my youngest son, but he hasn’t yet.”
Smith offered to make a few calls to help her get the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) she wanted, and she chose military dog handling, which is typically difficult to get as a new recruit.
“I had to call in all the favors,” he said.
The recruiter didn’t know Jaeggers’ stepdad was a sergeant major, and tried to get her to choose something else. But a spot seemingly miraculously opened up, and she was off for training about a week later.
Both Jaeggers and Smith said that her service has helped them grow closer.
“She wasn’t a fan of me in the beginning,” Smith said of his stepdaughter when he married her mom.
But in the five years she’s been in, they got to meet up in South Korea when Smith was there for training and Jaeggers was stationed in Japan. And now they’re both stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. Jaeggers spends lunchtime and weekends with Smith and her mom.
“There’s the bond all soldiers have, but when it’s your daughter, you share a little bit more,” Smith said.Read comments