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Patriotic Article
Troops and Veterans
By USAF Sr. Airman Andria J. Allmond

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Siblings Reunite At Joint Base Balad
(July 27, 2009)

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Siblings Senior Airman Robert Laxton and Staff Sgt. Alissa Taylor share a moment at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Airman Laxton is a 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron cryptologic operator. Sergeant Taylor is a 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron aviation resource manager.
Siblings Senior Airman Robert Laxton and Staff Sgt. Alissa Taylor share a moment at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Airman Laxton is a 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron cryptologic operator. Sergeant Taylor is a 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron aviation resource manager.
 JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (7/23/2009 - AFNS) -- For many families, deployments mean being apart from loved ones. For siblings Staff Sgt. Alissa Taylor and Senior Airman Robert Laxton a deployment to Joint Balad Base is a family reunion.

"Back home, it's difficult to schedule time to see each other," said Sergeant Taylor, a 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron aviation resource manager. "During holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, we don't get to spend time together because of work and having our own families."

For the brother and sister duo, the challenge of seeing one another ended when Airman Laxton landed here in June for his first deployment. He joined his sister, who's been at Joint Base Balad since May, on her third deployment. While they live on opposites sides of the base and have very different schedules -- Sergeant 
Taylor working 12-hour shifts daily with 24-hour alert and Airman Laxton on a flying schedule -- they have not allowed it to deter them from seeing each other.
Sergeant Taylor said they have been able to find time in their busy schedules to eat dinner together, watch movies and play cards.

"Balad, Iraq has brought us closer together," said Airman Laxton, a 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron cryptologic operator. "Whenever she gets off work I try to call her and chit-chat, and figure out when we can get together. It's nice to be able to call and say, 'Hey, do you want to meet up somewhere and hang-out' and not feel like you're in the middle of the desert with no one around."

Sergeant Taylor has even been able to assert her role as the big sister.

"When her brother came down to the unit to visit, she took him around and showed him a couple things," said 1st Lt. Zack Fisher, the 64th ERQS support flight commander and Sergeant Taylor's direct supervisor. "I was trying to talk to him about his job because I was curious about what he does. The whole time, she was standing over us, trying to grab him away from me. She was running the show from that perspective."

Sergeant Taylor and Airman Laxton's reunion began months prior, with a phone call from Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., to Nellis AFB, Nev.

"I was sitting on my couch at home when I got a call from my brother," Sergeant Taylor said. "He had a chuckle in his voice and said to me, 'Guess what...I am deploying to Balad!' I was so excited that I was going to have the opportunity to be out here with my brother. Knowing that he's here is probably one of the best things I could ask for."

While the phone call from her brother may have been a surprise initially; it was almost expected. Growing up with an Air Force father, she said it was only a matter of time before the Air Force would cause their paths to cross; their enlistment dates are exactly one year apart.

While the circumstances of this family reunion may be a bit out of the ordinary, for this military family it worked out in a way only the Air Force could deliver.

"Knowing my brother is here actually makes me feel like I can get away from my job for a little while," Sergeant Taylor said. "I sleep and work in the same compound, so it feels good to go to the other side of base and see my brother; to be able to sit down with him, hang out with him and spend some time with him. It'd been a year since I'd seen him last, and now we're actually able to see each other."

Article by USAF Sr. Airman Andria J. Allmond
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nicole Enos
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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