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Father, son serve under same colors in Iraq

CAMP AL TAQADDUM, Iraq —
When Cpl. Jared P. Lopez joined the Marine Corps in September 2006, he always knew there would be a possibility that he would deploy at the same time as his father, who has served in the Marine Corps for nearly 20 years—but he didn’t think that they would end up on the same base in Iraq.

http://www.usmc.mil/units/marforcom/iimef/2ndmlg/hq/Pages/Father,sonserveundersamecolorsinIraq.aspx

5/31/2009
By Cpl. Bobbie A. Curtis,
2nd Marine Logistics Group

Much to his surprise – that’s just what happened. In February 2009, Master Sgt. Juan Lopez, the operations chief for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Security Detachment, arrived at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, where his son had already been serving for a month.

Both Marines agreed that having family near them on the deployment has made it easier on them and the rest of their family.

“I can always talk to him if I have any questions,” stated Cpl. Lopez, a data/wire technician with Communication Company, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward). “It’s good to have a mentor that knows about life and the military.”

He said that his father helps him through everyday life and gives him advice on the military that he has learned during his long career.

“You can define leadership but I think there’s a difference as far as the military and civilian sides of it,” Lopez continued, pointing out his father’s well-rounded knowledge. “He has given me good insight.”

Master Sgt. Lopez said the best part of having his son serving with him in the still relatively dangerous country, is the positive impact it has had on Cpl. Lopez’s mother.

“His mom’s doing well,” the senior Lopez said. “She’s very happy with her husband and son over here at the same time. It makes her feel a lot more comfortable.”

The younger Lopez said he thought about following in his father’s footsteps many years before their faithful uniting in Iraq.

“I always wanted to join since I was young,” he explained.

Lopez said that after high school he decided that college was not the path he wished to initially follow.

“I took some college, like two classes … I said I’d rather put my time in, join the Marine Corps and serve my country, and that way set myself up for college at the same time.”

One of Master Sgt. Lopez’s other three sons, Cpl. Dane Lopez, an intelligence analyst with 1st Radio Battalion, 1st Marine Division, was originally scheduled to deploy to Iraq at the same time as his father and brother, before sudden changes were made. His father remembers having a good hunch that his two sons may join the Corps, recalling some good indicators from their childhood.

“I just knew that this was probably something they would do,” he said. “They were always talking to Marines, wearing Marine gear and doing Marine things.”

For Cpl. Lopez, growing up as a ‘military brat’ and then joining the Marine Corps shed some light on all the things he observed while living with his father through much of his long career as an infantryman.

“Experiencing the Marine Corps first hand was different,” he explained. “As a dependent all you had to worry about was school. I knew my dad was going to deploy, be in the field, and be gone for two weeks at a time for training.

“After witnessing the fleet, I understand more and more … where his certain mannerisms came from and why he was the way he was,” he continued. “When he said he was worn out and had to wake up early, now I see why he went to bed.”

Recently, Lopez beat out about 50 of his peers to win honor graduate at the 2nd MLG (Fwd) Corporal’s Leadership Course here. He explained that having his father in the Marine Corps contributed to his success and pushed him to excel at everything he does.

“He definitely inspires me to give everything my best,” he said.

Lopez said that he is still deciding if he is going to make the Marine Corps a career as his father did. He added that he may follow in his father’s footsteps by doing the same special duty as him.

“I love being a Marine,” he said. “Now that I am getting closer and closer to the end [of my first term], I want to do MSG (Marine Security Guard Duty). If that takes me into the next enlistment, that is fine.”

Both Marines said they have been grateful for the opportunity to serve side-by-side with their family members.

"I think it's an honor to be able to serve with your family," said Cpl. Lopez. "It's definitely made things a little easier."