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380AEW Article

Kingpin makes deployment a family affair

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Zade Vadnais
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Deployment can be a difficult experience. Long hours and separation from family and friends can feel inconvenient and frustrating on even the best of days.


While some of these frustrations are difficult to avoid, deployments don’t necessarily equate to separation from family for all Airmen. In some cases, deployments can bring family members closer than ever.


The 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron is comprised of active duty and Guard personnel assigned to multiple installations around the world. It’s not uncommon to see married couples assigned to the same unit, nor is it out of the ordinary to have multiple members of a single family assigned to a single Guard unit. What sets the 727th EACS apart is the number and variety of family bonds within the unit.


Master Sgt. Heath McCoppin, 727th EACS operations coordinator, is currently fulfilling his final deployment before retirement. Though Heath has been deployed several times, this is the first time he is joined by his son, Senior Airman Garrett McCoppin, 727th EACS cyber operations technician.


“Back home we live about an hour apart so being deployed together and being able to spend time together every day for six months is awesome,” said Heath. “We have a pretty close relationship anyway, but the time together has been great.


“He might get tired of me,” joked Heath. “But as a father, it’s great! This is my last deployment and it’s his first, which is cool to me. It’s been a real great bonding experience to bring us closer than we ever were.”


Identical twins Master Sgt. Kyle Ray, 727th EACS logistics specialist, and Master Sgt. Ryan Ray, 727th EACS operations coordinator, already felt plenty close to each other prior to this deployment. Although the brothers describe themselves as “exactly alike” to the point they opted not to dorm together to avoid unnecessary tension, they enjoy the shared experience of deploying with each other.


“My first deployment was by myself,” said Kyle. “I always wondered what it would be like to deploy with my brother. It’s just a different experience because a lot of people have friends within the unit, but then you look at your brother and he’s there to actually communicate on that more personal, family level if you need to.”


Having family available for in-person communication on a deep personal level can have professional benefits as well as personal ones. Capt. Cody Martin, 727th EACS chief of scheduling, and his wife Capt. Kathryn Martin, 727th EACS chief of training, are deployed together and lean on each other to sharpen their leadership skills while pushing each other for excellence in execution of their primary duties.


“We learn a lot from each other based on how we manage our teams,” explained Kathryn. “It’s like having a really good friend who you’re working with that you can bounce any idea off of. We’ve been friends for a really long time so it really helps to have that person next to you, especially during deployments which can be hard.”


Having someone to communicate with on a deeper personal level is also important to Staff Sgt. Regina Abarca and her husband Sergio, both 727th EACS weapons directors. Deployed together for the third time, the couple views deployments as a time to grow together and pursue goals free from the distractions of everyday life.


“It can be cumbersome for married couples who are separated to stay connected and know exactly what’s going on with each other day to day,” explained Sergio. “Since we deploy together we have a better idea of what’s going on with each other. We’re growing together out here. Deployment is a time to work hard, but also it’s almost a pause in time from the ‘real world’ to tackle some personal goals. We always keep each other on track and make sure by the time we get back from our deployments, we’ve each met or exceeded those goals.”