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Mil to Mil, Heart to Heart

A military family stands in front of a jet.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Colón, 35th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group superintendent, poses with his wife, Maj. Deborah Colón, 35th Warrior Medicine Clinic commander, and their children after Master Sgt. Colón’s re-enlistment ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, August 28, 2021. Maj. Colón has administered the Oath of Enlistment at all three of Master Sgt. Colón’s re-enlistments.

A man and a woman in uniform pose in front of a jet.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Colón, 35th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group superintendent, stands with his wife Maj. Deborah Colón, 35th Warrior Medicine Clinic commander, after his re-enlistment ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, August 28, 2021. Master Sgt. Colón looks forward to sharing his passion for service with new Airmen during his final enlistment before retirement.

Two hands are shown with matching wedding rings.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Colón, 35th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group superintendent and Maj. Deborah Colón, 35th Warrior Medicine Clinic commander, show the wedding bands they wear while at work at Misawa Air Base, Japan, August 28, 2021. They have shared unique challenges not only being a dual-military family, but also an enlisted and officer one. They worked together to overcome those challenges and remain committed to each other.

A man in uniform holds his right hand up in a square. A woman in uniform is in the foreground holding her hand up in a square.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Colón, 35th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group superintendent, recites the Oath of Enlistment that his wife, Maj. Deborah Colón, 35th Warrior Medicine Clinic commander, administers during Master Sgt. Colón’s re-enlistment ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, August 28, 2021. They met while both were enlisted Airmen on a deployment in 2007.

A man in a military uniform salutes a woman in a military uniform during a re-enlistment ceremony.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Colón, 35th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group superintendent, salutes his wife Maj. Deborah Colón, 35th Warrior Medicine Clinic commander, during his re-enlistment ceremony at Misawa Air Base, Japan, August 28, 2021. Master Sgt. Colón has also re-enlisted in front of Mount Rushmore and on top of a water tower at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Re-enlistments, one of the quieter yet more impactful military ceremonies in the career of many Airmen, can be as simple as a few office colleagues gathering together in a conference room, or as elaborate as the re-enlistee imagines.

 

The focal point of a re-enlistment is taking the Oath of Enlistment again which is administered by a commissioned officer. Most people find a mentor or an officer with which they share a special bond. Master Sgt. Richard Colón, 35th Fighter Wing Commander’s Action Group superintendent, has a very special relationship with the officer who administered his Oath. She is his spouse, Major Deborah Colón, 35th Warrior Medicine Clinic commander.

 

“I am overwhelmed with emotions, but I am mostly humbled by the experience,” Master Sgt. Colón said. “Being able to reenlist in general is an accomplishment most people take for granted, and not everyone gets to do. So not only do I get to re-enlist, but I have my best friend at home, my mentor in uniform and my biggest fan in life do it. It shows she believes in me.”

 

Maj. Colón has administered the Oath of Enlistment for all three of Master Sgt. Colón’s re-enlistments. The couple met while both were enlisted Airmen on a deployment. When they returned to their respective duty stations, they eventually married and began their life as a new dual-military household.
 

“Being dual military is not easy,” Master Sgt. Colón said. “We spent the first three years of our marriage separated. After that, we struggled with whose job or career was more important. Whether it was an exercise, a deployment or one of the kids getting sick. That answer wasn’t easy to figure out at first, but once we did, it never changed; we’re equally important to the mission, to our units and to one another.”

 

After Maj. Colón commissioned, the Colóns adjusted to a new dynamic of dual-military households.

 

“We moved to our duty station as a senior airman and a first lieutenant, and our second day, one of our leaders at the time said there would be no way for us both to have a successful career being an officer and enlisted couple,” Master Sgt. Colón said. “Either our marriage would crumble or our careers would suffer. That person helped put into perspective what was to come, and we thank them for that.”

 

That occurred over ten years ago. With this re-enlistment, Master Sgt. Colón will be eligible for retirement, and he plans to use the next few years sharing his passion for service with new Airmen.

 

“I feel like I still have so much to give,” said Master Sgt. Colón. “The Air Force has given me so much and I will always be indebted to it. My reenlistment just gives me more time to help as many people as I can and show them how to make their own variation of it."