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Family values: Mother and son reunite while deployed

Senior Airman Colt, left, and his mother Maj. Donna, right, stand on the wing of an E-3 Sentry at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 20, 2017. Donna, currently deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, coordinated with U.S. Air Forces Central Command and 380th Air Expeditionary Wing leadership to surprise her son. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden)

Senior Airman Colt, left, and his mother Maj. Donna, right, stand on the wing of an E-3 Sentry at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 20, 2017. Donna, currently deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, coordinated with U.S. Air Forces Central Command and 380th Air Expeditionary Wing leadership to surprise her son. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden)

Senior Airman Colt, left, and his mother Maj. Donna, right, reunite at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 20, 2017, after spending two years apart. Donna decided to surprise her son with a brief visit when their deployment windows overlapped. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden)

Senior Airman Colt, left, and his mother Maj. Donna, right, reunite at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 20, 2017, after spending two years apart. Donna decided to surprise her son with a brief visit when their deployment windows overlapped. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden)

Maj. Donna, U.S. Air Forces Central Command sexual assault response coordinator, and her son Senior Airman Colt embrace at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 20, 2017. Donna and Colt reunited while deployed after spending approximately two years apart. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden)

Maj. Donna, U.S. Air Forces Central Command sexual assault response coordinator, and her son Senior Airman Colt embrace at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, July 20, 2017. Donna and Colt reunited while deployed after spending approximately two years apart. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden)

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --

Wake, work, sweat, eat, sleep, repeat. The deployment grind can easily become engrained in deployed Airmen as they work to keep the mission going.

 

The routine of Senior Airman Colt, currently deployed with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, recently took a departure from the norm when his mother paid him a surprise visit.

 

“Of all the places I get to meet up with him, how about the middle of the desert?” said Maj. Donna, currently deployed as the sexual assault prevention and response program manager for U.S. Air Forces Central Command at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

 

Donna, normally stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, had not seen her son in two years, she said. She and Colt, whose home station is Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, had been unable to arrange their leave to see one another.

 

So when Colt’s deployment with the 380 EAMXS Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit began shortly before she was due to return to Yokota, she saw an opportunity she couldn’t miss.

 

“It was a very short window to make this happen,” she said. “I wasn’t even sure that I was going to make it in time. It all came together at about 3 o’clock this morning.”

 

Though Donna’s team was due to make a site visit to the 380 AEW, she saw that she would have returned to her home station beforehand, she said. She approached her leadership with the issue, and they encouraged her to make a site visit of her own to see Colt.

 

Colt’s leadership was made aware of the situation and helped to coordinate the visit. 380 EAMXS Commander Lt. Col. Kathryn and Senior Master Sgt. Ben, 380 EAMXS Sentry AMU superintendent, met Donna at the passenger terminal and escorted her onto the flight line, where her son was currently working on an E-3 Sentry.

 

“We’re glad to be able to do this for them,” said Ben.

 

Colt was told that there would be distinguished visitors arriving and was told to report from his office to the flight line, he said. Bent under the E-3 landing gear, at first all he could see was a gaggle of boots on the ground in front of him.

 

“I was definitely caught off guard,” Colt explained. “I was expecting a general in a panel van or other high ranking visitor.”

 

“Meanwhile it was just a major,” Donna added. “How disappointing.”

 

As he stood to greet the “distinguished visitor,” he noticed his mother’s hairstyle and immediately realized what was going on, he said. They laughed and embraced, beginning to trade quips and jokes as if no time had passed.

 

“Her hair is exactly the same,” he said. “Meanwhile, I’ve gotten fatter and she’s probably judging me on the state of my laundry. But that’s life.”

[Last names have been withheld for security purposes]