AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
Editor’s Note: This is four of a four part series about family members deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar together.
As military members, saying goodbye for temporary duties assignments or deployments are inevitable; however, for one active duty U.S. Air Force couple, deployment is the next step of developing their marriage and serving their country together.
Master Sgt. Michael Fulton, 50th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron chief boom operator and Staff Sgt. Kendra Fulton, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group flight and operational medical technician (FOMT), are both currently deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
“The best part of having my husband here with me is to have my best friend next to me,” Kendra said. “As a mil-to-mil, we have developed a support system that helps us rise to many challenges. We deploy almost every year, but in different countries. This is not our first deployment, but it’s awesome to be able to share a deployment together.”
Natives of Chicago, Illinois, the couple is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. At their stateside unit, the 50th Air Refueling Squadron, Michael serves as the operations superintendent while Kendra as a medical technician for the unit. Both deployed together to Al Udeid Air Base in August 2020.
While deployed, Michael is responsible for boom operations for the 50th EARS, which includes briefing and debriefing operators directly impacting operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom Sentinel, as well as providing guidance on emergency and tactical procedures. He also serves as the unit’s deployed first sergeant.
“[I’m] available to every boom operator assigned here at the 50th EARS for issues that may arise while performing in AOR, assisting the director of operations on decisions and providing input that effect the crew force,” he said.
Kendra, who serves as the primary FOMT for the 50th EARS, works with flight medicine clinic to provide care for all the flyers on base, coalition forces, security forces, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, personnel reliability program, and air traffic control.
She also stated her position requires her to assist Al Udeid with medical needs outside the 50th EARS.
“[I] additionally have numerous other responsibilities to include medical oversight of over 100 shops and public health venues, fatigue management and countermeasures, in-flight emergency response, medical management of patients within the primary causality collection point for the area of responsibility, intra-theater [Novel Coronavirus] travel, and local COVID management/countermeasures to name a few,” she said.
Kendra stated that being in the Air Force has ultimately made their marriage stronger.
“[Deployment] definitely made our communication stronger,” she said. “We had to develop a mutual understanding of how to balance the mission and our home life, to never forget to respect both.”
The couple who are no strangers to deployments having completed 13 between the pair, both stated that this one is even more special since they are able to celebrate their wedding anniversary together at Al Udeid. On Aug. 29, 2020, the pair celebrated their 5th wedding anniversary.
“I was able to get back to the dorms, purchased a card and small gift,” Michael said. “She ordered a pizza and we watched a movie. [We were] able to discuss and talk about our time together so far and plan a vacation in January 2021.”
According to Michael, this deployment has been unlike any other in his career.
“This is my 9th deployment and has been completely different from others by being deployed as a unit and here with my spouse,” he said. “In 2018, my wife was deployed to the 10th Air Evacuation Flight at Ramestein, Germany, while I was at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. There were multiple times where we were either in the same airspace, flying the same on the same air tasking order day or on the same ramp missing each other by minutes.”
The couple is currently deployed as part of the first mass unit deployment of the 50th ARS from MacDill AFB.
Michael stated that one significant aspect of the deployment is that its building unit comradery, but he also explained that it’s doing something for his marriage.
“Continuing our friendship and relationship here together,” he stated.