Family bonds through generations of military service

Feb 9, 2021
3 minute read
Family & MilSpouse photo


As the mother of an Army National Guard soldier and the daughter of a former Army captain, Nancy Craker-Yahman sees…

As the mother of an Army National Guard soldier and the daughter of a former Army captain, Nancy Craker-Yahman sees the resemblance between her son and father. 

“Over the years, many would mention how our son inherited his grandfather’s smile … Often referred to as ‘Little Lyle’ [after my father, Lyle] I never did mind the comparison. Not only did he inherit his award-winning smile but also his nose and a few of his other facial features and expressions,” she said. 

Craker-Yahman’s son is a specialist in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. She has found that, in addition to their shared expressions, they have other commonalities.

“Both are hardworking, adept at learning new things, responsible, are kind and giving, sympathetic, caring, enjoy keeping active, and have a love for dogs,” she said. 

Zachary, Craker-Yahman’s son, always loved listening to his grandfather speak about his time in the service and often seeks his advice when it comes to military training or experiences, which brings them even closer together.

“When his grandfather spoke about his life experiences and his time serving as a captain, Zachary paid close attention. When he had questions or needed his grandfather’s opinion about his soon-to-be military experiences, he always offered a thoughtful reply,” Craker-Yahman said. 

Lyle Craker

Craker-Yahman’s father has continued to have a significant role in her son’s life after he enlisted in military. 

“When the time came for our son to take the oath of enlistment, his grandfather was a proud guest of honor. Once the oath was official, a firm handshake took place between the two along with the sharing of smiles,” she said. 

The family members often spend their time together looking through old photographs and enjoying root beer floats and apple pie. They value listening to each other’s shared experiences, even generations apart. To Craker-Yahman, her son and her father’s shared smiles are just another display of their connected spirits. 

“Moments of meaningful discussion are never wasted,” Craker-Yahman shares. 

Spc. Zachary Yahman.

“Like so many soldiers, my father and son are competent, brave, and talented servicemen. They are humble individuals and not attention seekers. I appreciate it when we come across photographs of my father and our son, who stand proudly in their uniforms surrounded by loved ones, battle buddies, and lifelong friends. While the photos feature them displaying serious-looking faces, the ones where they flash a proud smile are the ones I have placed in frames in my home office. Having them near me in this way brings me comfort. I will always be proud and supportive of their service, their sense of duty, their love for family, how they willingly lend their helping hands, and the selfless care they share,” Craker-Yahman said.

She adds that she hopes the sense of duty and commitment passed down through the generations will continue as the family grows. She supports her son daily by way of writing, taking photographs, scrapbooking, and displaying an Army National Guard flag at the front of her home. 

“I remain hopeful that generation number four is just as lucky as the ones before us and that they will inherit their great grandfather’s smile and carry on the tradition of proudly serving in the military,” she said.