Preparing for a deployment can be a challenging, stressful and exciting task. There are multiple check lists to finish, appointments, briefings and goodbyes to make.
One father and son duo had one less goodbye to make, but instead just had to say 'See you in Djibouti, Africa!'
Chief Master Sgt. Lazaro Ibarra, 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron flight engineer, and his son, Senior Airman Daniel Ibarra, 81st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron loadmaster, had the opportunity to deploy together to the same place, during the same time.
Both Ibarra's are reservists from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.
After serving 34 years in the Air Force, Chief Ibarra is wrapping up his final deployment before retiring in Jan. 2016, while his son is just beginning his career and is on his first deployment.
"I knew I wanted to fly since I was little, from growing up around helicopters and aviation in general," said SrA Ibarra about his decision to join the Air Force. "[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 they are in separate squadrons. This is the first time the two squadrons have deployed together since 2003, giving the two the opportunity to experience a deployment together.
Although they have the support of each other during this deployment, they also have the support from their family back home.
"They are proud of us, very proud," said Chief Ibarra. "I talk to my mom, his grandma, and she asks how he is doing."
Both Ibarra's are in the flying career fields which at times have overlapping missions, giving them the chance to work together. Chief Ibarra works on the HH-60 helicopter and SrA Ibarra works on the C-130.
"It is strange to hear him on the radio talking to us back and forth while on the planes," said Chief Ibarra. "A lot of the guys make jokes saying 'is that you, Laz, or your son?' since we kind of sound alike."
One particular moment of working together sticks out in their mind.
"I remember on one of my first TDY's to Key West for an exercise and we were doing an air refueling," said SrA Ibarra. "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," said SrA Ibarra. "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, Chief Ibarra is going to spend his time fishing, boating, and brushing up on his golf game, his son said.
SrA Ibarra will graduate Florida State University next fall with a bachelor's degree in Economics and Political Science. He hopes to commission and become a pilot in the Air Force Reserves.