BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 8, 2014 —
The military becomes a tightly knit family for people who are away from home. Service members share many unique experiences, and when the time comes to deploy, they need “family” support that much more.
For Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo and Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, the support network is available not only from their unit, but also each other, as this father and daughter share their first deployment together here.
Trujillo and Buzzell are both deployed from the Air National Guard’s 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron in South Portland, Maine, and are natives of Turner, Maine.
Trujillo, a cable antenna team chief, has served for 26 years. Buzzell has been in the Air Force for five years and is a radio frequency transmissions technician. Both are deployed with Task Force Signal.
For them, the Air Force, deployments and moving always have been a normal way of life.
“My wife retired from active duty about nine years ago,” Trujillo said. “We have traveled and lived everywhere, and now that my daughter is older, I think she appreciates the opportunities we had being a military family.”
Five years ago while Trujillo was deployed to Afghanistan, Buzzell enlisted in the same unit as her father. Trujillo came home to the surprise that his daughter was in the Air Force and part of his unit.
“My dad had mentioned the military, and I always wanted to join,” she said. “Other plans happened. I got married and had kids, so a few years later, I just decided to join.”
Though he was surprised, Trujillo said, he was proud of his daughter.
“I never pushed her to join. I would have supported her in any decision she made,” he added. “I always thought that the Air Force would be a good choice for her. I think the Air Force is very family oriented, and it helps give you an idea of what you want to do with your life.”
While Buzzell was originally tasked to deploy, Trujillo was not. Because it was Buzzell’s first deployment, her father volunteered to join her in Afghanistan.
“My mom originally did not want him to volunteer,” Buzzell said. “But when she found out I was tasked, she immediately changed her mind and was telling my dad he ‘had’ to volunteer.”
Trujillo said he wanted to volunteer because he didn’t think an opportunity like this would come by again. He also wanted to make sure he was there for his daughter on her first deployment.
“I think it relaxed my wife a little more, because she knew I was going to be here with my daughter,” he said. “I now realize I don’t really need to be here for her. She is doing great and has a great attitude about being here.”
Originally, Trujillo was tasked to go to Kandahar Airfield, but when the unit switched teams around, it allowed the two the opportunity to work together.
“We don’t always work together every day, but we do get to spend time together,” Trujillo said. “It is good to be apart sometimes. It keeps her dad from always being on her.”
Buzzell said she enjoys having her dad around and likes to tell people she is here with him whenever she gets the chance.
“He is always sticking up for me, even though he doesn’t have to,” she said. “The experience of having him here is one that many people will not have. It will be something that [he] and I will always share and look back on.”
Having been with the unit for a few years, Buzzell said, she has found it to be a close group, so even if her father wasn’t here, she knows they would take care of her.
“None of them would replace my dad, of course, but most of the people from my unit are high school friends,” she said. “The airmen also see him as a father figure, and we are just happy he is here.”
Trujillo and Buzzell celebrated Father’s Day last month with a 5K race and a lunch date.
“One thing I didn’t think I was going to miss were hugs,” Buzzell said. “My daughters at home hug me all the time, so the best thing about having my dad here is that I get to hug him whenever I need a hug.”