(WASHINGTON) — Racquel McCray grew up with two Navy parents, so when she turned 18 she decided she wanted to follow in their footsteps. This year, she got the rare chance to be able to see her mother in action after being assigned to her ship, the USS Gerald R. Ford.
When she joined the Navy in May, Racquel chose to pursue the same logistics specialty as her mother. When she realized that she could have the opportunity to watch her mother, Tonya McCray, in the field, she reached out to her chain of command to be assigned to her mother’s ship.
Even though she was in the Navy, Tonya never pushed Racquel to follow in her footsteps, Tonya told “Good Morning America.” However, watching her father and mother inspired her to follow the same path.
“I chose to join because I watched my parents for my entire life,” Racquel told “GMA.” “They both served, so watching them every day go to work made me actually want to follow in their footsteps, with how successful they were and what they were able to provide for my sister and I.”
When Racquel first discussed the idea with her parents, they “didn’t believe her or take her seriously,” Tonya said. Once she realized how serious Racquel was about enlisting in the Navy and pursuing the logistics speciality, though, she warmed up to the idea.
“I was a proud mother,” Tonya said. “It took a while for her to get everything situated to come in, but that was my baby and I was so proud.”
Soon after enlisting, Racquel realized that she wanted to work alongside her mother, Tonya said.
“I shared some pictures with her and I talked about the experience, and she told me that was why she wanted to join the military — to be able to participate in things like that,” Tonya explained. “I talked to my chain of command, she talked to her chain of command and we thought it could be used as a training opportunity.”
For the four weeks that Racquel and Tonya worked on the same ship, Tonya enjoyed getting to share her profession with her daughter, describing the experience as “great.”
“I was able to share what I did with my daughter every day. She saw what respect that someone of my pay grade gets on a day to day, how they look up to me, and it just felt great to be able to share that experience with her, and also, just to see her hard work,” Tonya said.
While Racquel said she was disappointed about not having more time with her mother, she found her time on the ship valuable. Now, she knows that she made the right decision in choosing her specialty.
“It was a great experience for me, even though it only lasted four weeks,” Racquel said. “I would have liked for it to be a little bit longer, but it was really nice to be able to see the benefits of all of [my mom’s] hard work, how people looked up to her and respected her.”
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