November is Military Family Month and serves as a celebration of the service, strength and sacrifice of all military families. Their commitment to each other and our nation is truly inspirational. In honor of military families, we are sharing the story of one Coast Guard family whose service brings them together.
With contributions from Cmdr. Willliam J. Makell Jr. and Petty Officer 3rd Class Angela Henderson.
They push you outside your comfort zone. They’re a source of inspiration. They also add a dose of rivalry into your life – sibling rivalry.
As we honor the resilient families serving alongside servicemembers throughout Military Family Month, we also acknowledge the strength of a military family that serves together, including brothers and sisters.
One such family is the McNair family. This Coast Guard family, including Lt. Cmdr. Rocklyn McNair, Ensign Holly McNair and Chief Petty Officer Armena McNair, embodies the very strength of a military family.
It was Rocklyn who found the Coast Guard first. Rocklyn received his first taste of discipline while growing up in Los Angeles when he became a Police Explorer with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“I enjoyed the regimented lifestyle and sensed God’s will for me was to be in the military,” Rocklyn said. “After researching the Naval Academy and Air Force Academy, I found a brochure about the Coast Guard Academy in my high school college library and it seemed like it was written just for me.”
Continuing the tradition of service set by his father, Shawn McNair, who served in the Merchant Marines during World War II, Rocklyn attended the Coast Guard Academy and never looked back.
“My brother, Rocklyn, has been a model of excellence in all that he has done for Coast Guard members as well as for his family,” said his sister Armena, who has served in the Coast Guard for 24 years.
Rocklyn recently retired with 25 years of service, but his influence on his siblings is evident as his younger sister Holly has just started on her journey in the Coast Guard.
Holly McNair is currently stationed aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy where she has to keep up with the ship’s fast-paced operations and science missions. Already completing two deployments to the Arctic Ocean, she continues to excel and encourages those around her to make a difference.
“I spent four years at the Coast Guard Academy and was commissioned in May 2010,” she said. “While in the Coast Guard, first and foremost, I aspire to empower my peers and rising leaders to be the positive change that they would like to see.”
While Armena looks up to her brother and is motivated by his dedicated service, she is also equally as proud of her sister.
“Holly is now doing things that Rocklyn and I did not do, so we are very encouraged and hopeful for her continued success and to share in all her accomplishments as well.”
Each of the McNair siblings, including their sister Sonoma McNair, who is currently serving in the U.S. Air Force, made the choice to serve. They made the choice to be there for each other and support each other every step of the way.
And while they encourage each other to serve as best they can, that doesn’t stop them from a little friendly competition.
“We all have had unique experiences in the Coast Guard and that is what has made the experience so interesting,” said Armena. “However, with Rocklyn being an engineer and my being a boatswain’s mate, we have gotten into those ‘boatswain’s mate versus engineer discussions.’”