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See Caption
Senior Airman Vincent Lopez, 354th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons loader, picks up ordnance to load on an A-10 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Lopez is deployed to Bagram with his father and stepmother, who work for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Seals

Senior Airman Vincent Lopez
AAFES Employees Julia Lopez, Tony Lopez

The Family That Deploys Together, Enjoys Together…..

By Capt. Nora Eyle
Combined Joint Task Force-82

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 3, 2007 —  Most parents never know what life is like for their children at a deployed location, but for Senior Airman Vincent Lopez, an A-10 weapons loader, his parents have firsthand knowledge on life here.

Lopez’s father and stepmother are deployed here with him, working for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

The Lopez family is from El Paso, Texas, and Lopez’s parents work for AAFES in Dallas. Tony and Julia Lopez were deploying to another location in Afghanistan when they were redirected mid-flight to Bagram.

Lopez had no idea his parents were here until he got an e-mail message from his father telling him simply, “Hey, guess what? I’m here at Bagram.”

Lopez headed to the Base Exchange as quickly as possible, talked to the employees and arranged a meeting with his dad.

“To be honest, this is the last place I’d ever think I’d see them,” said Vincent.

Although their schedules are challenging to coordinate, they meet at least once a week at the BX or for meals where they can catch up on each other’s experiences.
 
“It’s a relief for my parents to know that I’m doing ok and it’s really a unique experience for all of us,” said a smiling Vincent.

Who has the tougher assignment is up for debate, but the Lopez parents will be here for a year, while their son may be here six months. As AAFES employees, Tony and Julia follow the same rules as servicemembers, working long hours. Tony insists his son has the more challenging assignment.

Photo - See caption below.
Senior Airman Vincent Lopez, stepmother Julia Lopez and father Tony Lopez. Vincent is an A-10 weapons loader assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. The Lopez family members are all deployed to Bagram. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Craig Seals
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“He is the one that has a harder time, and that’s really my job to bring anything familiar we can to these guys from home, and in some cases that may even be a family member,” he said.

It’s not that difficult for Lopez because he likes working on A-10s.

“I love my job,” said Vincent.

Tony and Julia haven’t been to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., which is Lopez’ home station, because they usually meet up halfway at El Paso to catch up with family and friends, so it’s ironic that they’ve been able to visit with him here while he is stationed at Bagram. 

“As a parent, the safety, security and environment are always on your mind,” said Tony. “It’s great that I can see what the conditions are, and I know his team has really taken good care of him.”

Vincent agrees, “It’s great to have family here with me; it’s made my deployment so much better.”

Last Updated:
07/03/2007, Eastern Daylight Time
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