Airman returns to Ellsworth after being born on base

Over 20 years after her dad was stationed at Ellsworth, SrA. Helms' assignment takes her back

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. – Twenty-three years ago, one Ellsworth Air Force Base couple got quite the surprise on Christmas Day. Now, 20 years after leaving the base, their Christmas gift is stationed at Ellsworth herself.

Senior Airman Kelsey Helms is a mission support group administrator at Ellsworth. But it’s not her first time here.

Rewind to over 20 years ago.

“So I was supposed to be born in mid-January, but then my parents got a surprise on Christmas, Christmas night,” said Helms.

Born at the Medical Group on base, Kelsey spent her first few years at Ellsworth before the military life took them somewhere else. But the lifestyle had her hooked.

After attending technical school in Biloxi, Mississippi, the same place her parents met, she came to Ellsworth, following in their footsteps.

“I remember the day when I actually got orders from my tech school to Ellsworth AFB. I was just like baffled, like, ‘There’s no way I’m getting sent back here,'” said Helms. “What are the odds of my dad being here 23 years ago and then his daughter being sent to the same place where he was stationed?”

The odds are low. In Helms’ position, she says she could be transferred almost anywhere across the country. But by being stationed at Ellsworth, she has a strong connection with her dad who’s been through the same things.

“It’s really cool to have a connection with that,” said Helms.

That connection grew into the tight-knit family she says she has today, even though they’re scattered across the country.

There’s daily phone calls to say hello, or a call just to tell a joke. “And that’s the end of the conversation,” said Helms.

While she probably won’t get to spend this holiday and birthday season with her parents, it’s actually what brings them closer together.

“Since we all understand the military life and how we can’t all be together for, especially the holiday season, it just makes us understand more and just appreciate each other more,” said Helms.

Kelsey hopes to be stationed closer to her parents one day and maybe celebrate Christmas and her birthday with them once again.

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