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Senior Airman Andria Allmond, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- 12.01.2009
Military service can be one of many bonds parents and children share. Few parents, however, get to reaffirm that bond with their child while both are in the middle of a military deployment.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Rolando was re-enlisted by his father, Capt. Bruce Rolando, in front of a B-1B Lancer aircraft on the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing flight line, Nov. 21.
The Rolandos were in Southwest Asia on temporary duty from separate deployments. Rolando is deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, as part of the 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, while Sergeant Rolando is deployed to the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.
Knowing they would only see each other here for two days, Rolando wanted to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to re-enlist his son.
"My sole purpose, besides meeting with my counterparts, was to come re-enlist my son," Rolando, deployed from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., said.
Military service is a tradition in the Rolando family. Rolando's father served in the Air Force and he himself has served nearly 30 years, first as active-duty and later transitioning to the Air Force Reserve. He met Sgt. Rolando's mother at Grand Forks, where she was an Airman as well. In 2001, already at 20 years of service, Rolando received his commission through the Reserve Deserving Airman Commissioning Program.
"I was very excited," Rolando said of his son's decision to join. "He was a star athlete in junior high and high school and excellent academically. One day he said 'what do you think of me joining the Air Force?' Both his mother and I said 'when?'"
Sgt. Rolando recalled what led him to join the Air Force. "I wasn't too motivated to go to school at the time," he said. "I was working at a bar and I could have continued to do that while trying to squeeze school in, but instead I decided to join the Air Force and actually do something and have my schooling taken care of."
During his first term in the Air Force, Sgt. Rolando has excelled. Taking after his mother, he was an honor graduate in basic training, was promoted to Senior Airman below-the-zone and passed the test for staff sergeant on his first try. He is deployed to Bagram from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.
"I can't say how proud I am," Rolando said of his son's accomplishments. "Joshua actually beat [his mother] in putting on staff by about 30 days. He definitely gets his brains from his mother's side of the family."
As the 332 ESFS chief of logistics during his deployment, Rolando found his son's job in logistics a fortuitous circumstance.
"He's been able to help a lot," Rolando said. "Any time I have a computer issue, I go to him."
Out on the flightline, Rolando said a few words to the gathered well-wishers. "Re-enlisting someone is not something I do all the time," he said. "It's a joyful occasion and a solemn occasion; it's joyful to me and to the troop because they're doing four more years of something they know and love. By the same token, it's solemn because they know they may be put into harm's way for four more years. But I know that [Sgt. Rolando] is 100 percent prepared."
After administering the oath to his son, the Rolandos signed the re-enlistment paperwork and then received a tour of the B-1 from the aircraft's crew chief.
"It was awesome," Sgt. Rolando said. "I work mainly with fighters or the heavies transporting our gear; I've never seen a bomber up close before."
Having committed himself to four more years of life in the Air Force, Sgt. Rolando said he is going to continue his education and follow in his father's footsteps and join the officer corps.
"I really like the Air Force and I want to have more of a leadership role," he said. "My plan is to apply to [Officer Training School] and hopefully by the time I'm done, Dad will be saluting me."