SOUTHWEST ASIA - Regardless of what drove them to service, one benefit of having family in the military is the rare opportunity that allows them to serve with one another in a deployed location.
It has been a major comfort to three California personnel assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing together. The Morales Talento brothers are deployed from the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Island Air National Guard Station, Calif.
Tech. Sgt. Luis Morales Talento is a supply specialist from the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. His little brothers, Senior Airman Walter Morales Talento, maintenance operations center controller, and Airman 1st Class Guido Morales Talento, a crew chief, both from the 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, have been close since growing up in Oxnard, Calif.
Luis and Walter immigrated with their parents to the United States from Guatemala in 1992 when they were 8 and 4. They believe that they are living out their late father's dream of serving in the U.S. Air Force.
"I'm really proud that we have fulfilled a lifelong dream our father had for himself and for his boys," said Walter.
Raised in a household that was both humble and authoritarian at times, their father was always supportive of the military. They remember him taking them to air shows each year, igniting a fire of patriotism in each of them.
"Every time we saw an American flag, my dad continuously reminded us and never failed to proclaim, 'That's your flag boys.' I did not connect the dots until I joined the Air Force and understood the powerful meaning behind the pride our flag solidified," shared Luis.
Many years after those memories, each brother decided to serve their nation by enlisting in the military. Out of five siblings, Luis, the oldest, stepped up and joined in 2004, but never lost hope that Guido and Walter would follow suit.
Before Walter enlisted, he admired Luis' amazing contributions for their state and for the nation. After hearing so many positive stories about the military, he made his decision.
"I just became inspired to follow in his footsteps. I chose the ANG over active duty because it allowed me to finish school, be able to live close to my family, and more importantly, serve with both of my brothers on the same base," Walter said.
Guido, the youngest brother, required a bit more finessing before finally 'crossing into the blue' and enlisting. To help make his decision, Walter and Luis voiced some unknown opportunities that Guido couldn't find on a recruiter brochure; their individual perspectives.
"After my first brother joined, I was sad because he had never been away [from me]. I definitely have a strong sense of pride in my country, but did not want to leave home. Essentially it was my oldest brother Luis that recruited me by taking me to the base, showing me around and showing me what I could accomplish," said Guido. "It further encouraged me to join when Walter did."
Being able to talk about like-minded issues and share similar comforts from home while in a deployed location is perfect for growing resilient bonds. Though they work different shifts, they make it a priority to check up on one another as often as possible and participate in activities around The Rock.
"I really feel blessed to have both of them here with me during my first deployment overseas. I love the fact that we hang out, enjoy meals together, work out, and even joined the Base Honor Guard together," said Walter.
Luis constantly reminds his brothers of little things that can help them be the best Airmen possible and Guido pushes them all to stay physically motivated.
"I am proud to say that each of us has won 1st place in different events here around the base. We hope to come in first place in the half marathon coming up later this month," Walter stated.
One of the biggest advantages of being deployed with family is taking care of and looking out for each other. The same concept shadows the Marauder Pride we all share on The Rock.
"We just want to thank our unit back home who allowed us to deploy together," the brothers said. "It's an honor to serve our country, our state of California and to be a part of this rich Marauder tradition along with my brothers."