An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News
NEWS | Sept. 24, 2019

Devotion to military runs deep for Puerto Rican family

By Tech. Sgt. Nancy Goldberger 116th Air Control Wing

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – It’s often said the Air National Guard is like a family. That’s literally the case for the Lopez family, with mother, son and daughter serving together in the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing.

A few years after Ernesto Lopez Jr. and his wife, Joanna, had their oldest son and daughter, they moved from Puerto Rico to the continental United States. They both wanted to join the military some years earlier. Ernesto enlisted, and they decided Joanna would stay home and raise their children.

Encouraged by his father, now a sergeant major in the U.S. Army, Ernesto Lopez-Falcon was the first of the Lopez-Falcon children to join the military in 2016. He is Senior Airman and a services specialist in the 116th Force Support Squadron.

When the recruiter called looking for her son, Joanna Lopez took the message and on a whim asked what the age limit was for joining the Air Guard. She was a few weeks shy of the 40-year age limit cutoff.

Within a matter of weeks, the mother of three rekindled her dream and enlisted and joined the 116th Air Control Wing with her son.

“I was shocked at first,” said her son. “I was there the day she swore in, too. I thought, ‘This is something else.’ ”

At basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, she was the oldest Airman in her flight.

“When I went to basic and first put my uniform on, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘This is me.’ ” said Lopez, now Airman 1st Class operations management specialist with the 116th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Inspired by her mother’s bold move, Jennifer Lopez-Falcon followed her mother and brother, joining the Georgia Air Guard in August 2018 after a semester of college.

“My mom had just gotten out of basic training, and I needed something exciting,” she said. “I went in the Guard because I still wanted to continue school.”

She is now Airman Basic Lopez-Falcon, a material management specialist in the 116th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

“Since the first day I got here, everyone has been so welcoming,” she said. “It’s good to come to work and feel I’m still at home, that this is still family.”

With four of the five immediate family members enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, serving is in the DNA of this military family. They are proud of both their Hispanic heritage and their devotion to duty, said Joanna Lopez.