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Deployed together: Family supports rescue missions in Africa

Senior Airman Daniel Ibarra, left, and Chief Master Sgt. Lazaro Ibarra pose in front of a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter Aug. 27, 2014, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The Ibarra’s are a father and son deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Daniel is a loadmaster with the 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron and Chief Ibarra is a flight engineer with the 303rd ERQS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Leslie Keopka)

Senior Airman Daniel Ibarra, left, and Chief Master Sgt. Lazaro Ibarra pose in front of a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter Aug. 27, 2014, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. The Ibarra’s are a father and son deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. Daniel is a loadmaster with the 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron and Chief Ibarra is a flight engineer with the 303rd ERQS. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Leslie Keopka)

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (AFNS) -- Preparing for a deployment can be a challenging, stressful and exciting task, plus there are multiple checklists to finish as well as appointments, briefings and goodbyes to make.

One father and son duo had one less goodbye to make, and instead just had to say, ‘See you in Djibouti, Africa!’

Chief Master Sgt. Lazaro Ibarra is a flight engineer with the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron and his son, Senior Airman Daniel Ibarra, is a loadmaster with the 81st ERQS, both are deployed together at the same place, during the same time.

Both Ibarra’s are reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

After serving 34 years in the Air Force, Chief Ibarra is wrapping up his final deployment before retirement, while his son is just beginning his career and first deployment.

“I knew I wanted to fly since I was little, from growing up around helicopters and aviation in general,” Daniel said. “(My dad) didn’t really push me to join; he just said it was always an option.”

The Ibarra’s are assigned to the same wing, but separate squadrons. This is the first time the wing’s two squadrons have deployed together since 2003, giving the Ibarra’s the opportunity to experience a deployment together.

Although they have the support of each other during their deployment, they also have the support from their family back home.

“They are proud of us, very proud,” Chief Ibarra said. “I talk to my mom, his grandma, and she asks how he is doing.”

Both Ibarra’s are in flying career fields, which at times have overlapping missions, giving them the chance to work together. Chief Ibarra works on the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and his son works on the C-130 Hercules.

“It is strange to hear him on the radio talking to us back and forth while on the planes,” Chief Ibarra said. “A lot of the guys make jokes saying, ‘Is that you, Laz, or your son?’ since we kind of sound alike.”

According to Daniel, one particular moment of working together sticks out in his mind.

“I remember on one of my first TDY’s to Key West for an exercise and we were doing an air refueling,” Daniel said. “It was one of the first times I was sitting on the ramp when it opened up and it was the first time I actually hauled with (my dad). When they were coming in to plug I could see him and he gave me a little wave.”

Chief Ibarra has been deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Africa, spending many months away from his family.

“It wasn’t easy growing up with that, but at the same time from a young age I understood that what he was doing was important,” Daniel said. “The greatest blessing was that when he was home, he was home and not getting caught up in work. We would go fishing or just spend time together.”

Upon retirement, Daniel said his father plans to spend his time fishing, boating and brushing up on his golf game.

As for Daniel, he will graduate Florida State University fall 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science. He said he hopes to commission and become a pilot in the Air Force Reserves.

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