By Sgt. 1st Class Whitney Hughes March 23, 2017

Iowa National Guard Maj. Jill Finkel pins her sister, Massachusetts Army National Guard Maj. Molly Alesch's, new rank on her at a promotion ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base March 17.
Iowa National Guard Maj. Jill Finkel (left) poses with her sister Massachusetts Army National Guard's newly promoted Maj. Molly Alesch (middle), her son and husband, at a promotion ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base March 17.

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. — When Massachusetts Army National Guard’s newly promoted Maj. Molly Alesch spoke at her promotion ceremony, March 17, here, she echoed one of the most common stories, that her father had served in the U.S. Army. However, when it came to her inspiration to serve she turned to the audience where her sister, Army Maj. Jill Finkel of the Iowa National Guard, beamed with pride. Later she playfully described a call with her youngest sister who asked how her ceremony was, “going to go down.” Army Spc. Kristen Alesch who serves in the Tennessee National Guard, was curious as she hasn’t seen many officer promotions ceremonies yet in her military career.

“It’s an honor to me to have the three of them serve. It gives me a sense of pride, I readily put that out there… brag about it I guess,” said their father Thomas Alesch. “I think that every person, male or female, should serve their country.”


The first of his daughters to join the service was his eldest daughter Jill. “I needed help from somewhere, I was without a lot of resources, and it turned out that the Army was the place for me,” said Jill. She found that help after enlisting in the Iowa National Guard, then went on to earn her law degree from Drake University, and now works full-time as a federally recognized Judge Advocate General Officer in the Iowa Guard’s Active Guard Reserve program.

“When Molly told me she was going to do it, I was all for it,” said Jill. “Every time I needed something, that’s what (the Army) I kept coming back to and I told Molly that she was going to need that support as well.”

It was while both older sisters were attending Drake University that Molly considered joining the military. She saw her sister wearing the uniform and paying her own way through college, which inspired her to join the National Guard’s Simultaneous Membership Program (a program that allowed her to be a member of the Iowa National Guard while completing her Bachelor’s Degree). After this she completed a 3 year tour on Active Duty, and then took a break in service.

Civilian life didn’t quite suit her.

“When I went to grad school I was with people who were freaking out about assignments and completing grad school in general,” said Molly. “I’m thinking that is nothing. People are dying overseas, I’m used to being with Soldiers who have real stuff to worry about. I missed it.” Molly found a home in the Massachusetts National Guard — The Nation’s First, first as an Education Officer and now as the state’s Sexual Assault and Response Prevention Coordinator.

Jill deployed to Afghanistan from 2010-2011, Molly deployed to Iraq from 2005-2006.

When their “baby sister” Kristen, now Spc. Alesch, graduated from basic training Molly spoke about attending the ceremony, with pride, but not without concern. She is the first of the three to have joined after 9/11.

“She is an 88M (Motor Transport Operator), and I know because I am a logistics officer, that a lot of 88M’s are on the road and they’re always in the action,” said Molly.

Kristen, being a decade younger, hasn’t deployed yet. But Jill is confident that it won’t be an issue for the youngest of these sisters in service.

“It’s a little bit blown out of proportion, with women in the military, can they be in war can they not?… It’s a person issue not a gender issue.” Jill said. “While I enjoy the surprise, it really shouldn’t be surprising that three strong women want to serve their country.”