BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) --
The military becomes a tight 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 Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo and Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, the support network is not only available from their unit but also each other, as this father and daughter duo share their first deployment together at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
Trujillo and Buzzell are both deployed from the Maine Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation, and are currently deployed with Task Force Signal. While Trujillo has served for 26 years and is a cable antenna team chief, Buzzell has been in for five years, and is a radio frequency transmissions technician. For them the Air Force, deployments, and permanent changes of station have always 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," Buzzell said. "Other plans happened; I got married and had kids, so a few years later I just decided to join."
Trujillo, although surprised, was proud of his daughter.
"I never pushed her to join, I would have supported her in any decision she made," Trujillo said. "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 Buzzel was originally tasked to deploy, Trujillo was not; however since it was Buzzel's first deployment, her father volunteered to join her in Afghanistan.
"My mom originally did not want him to volunteer," Buzzel said. "But when she found out I was tasked she immediately changed her mind and was telling my dad he 'had' to volunteer."
According to Trujillo, 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," Trujillo 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 fortunately for him, the unit switched teams around allowing 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 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," Buzzell said. "The experience of having him here is one that many people will not have. It will be something that him and I will always share and look back on."
Having been with the unit for a few years, Buzzell feels they are a close group and 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," Buzzell 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."
Typically, the only family around when a member deploys are their brothers and sisters in arms, but Buzzell and Trujillo are fortunate enough to share their family bond miles away from home.