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Delmar pilot stays grounded

Area men and women fly with the 109th - George Alston

This is the first of a two-part series on members of the 109th Airlift Wing based in Scotia. This week The Spotlight focuses on the home lives of two of its members, George Alston of Delmar and Bradt Primary teacher Karolyn De Vito . Next week we will focus on how they perform their military duties in Greenland.

See Part 2 of George Alston's story here

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland - George Alston grew up in a military family where expectations ran high.

After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1989, he began his military career as an instructor pilot with assignments in Arizona, Texas, Japan and Arkansas. At that point in his career he was doing very well.

"My father always had aspirations for me to have a higher command than he did. Since he was a full colonel, that would mean being a general," the 43-year-old Delmar resident said. Just as he was readying for his next assignment in 1998, he received a received a medical diagnosis for his first-born daughter.

"The defining moment in my life was having to face the realities of a child with special needs. At that point, it became all about her. Every decision we made was about Ashley," Alston said. "I said to myself, 'I don't need to be a general, I need to be a good dad.'"

Alston made the decision to leave the full-time Air Force and began to search for a National Guard Unit in the U.S. that flew C-130s. There were lots of them.

"In any Air Force career, you are going to move every three years," he said. "Ashley needed stability in her care. The frequent moves made that stability highly unlikely."

While researching guard units, Alston and wife Jennifer gravitated toward the 109th. They liked the Capital District and the Bethlehem School District offered great programs for their growing family.

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