Father, Son Serve Under Same Colors in Iraq
(June 10, 2009)
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Juan Lopez, left, stands with his son, Marine Corps Cpl. Jared P. Lopez, at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, May 23, 2009. The two Marines found themselves serving side by side when both of their units deployed.
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq, June 4, 2009
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 they would end up
on the same base in Iraq.
Much to his surprise, that's just what happened. Master Sgt. Juan Lopez, the
operations chief for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment Security Detachment,
arrived here in February, a month after his son did.
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,” said Corporal Lopez, a data
wire technician with Communication Company, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “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 [are concerned],” the corporal said, pointing
out his father's well-rounded knowledge. “He has given me good insight.”
Master Sergeant 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 the
“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
The younger Lopez said he thought about following in his father's footsteps many
years before they found themselves together in Iraq.
“I always wanted to join since I was young,” he said, noting that college was
not the path he wished to follow after high school.
“I took some college, like two classes,” he said. “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 Sergeant Lopez's other three sons, Cpl. Dane Lopez, an
intelligence analyst with 1st Radio Battalion, 1st Marine Division, originally
was 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 might join the Corps, recalling some good indicators from their
“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 Corporal 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 acknowledged. “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 be honor graduate at the
group's Corporal's Leadership Course here. He said having his father in the
Marine Corps contributed to his success and pushed him to excel at everything he
“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 [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
"I think it's an honor to be able to serve with your family," Corporal Lopez
said. "It's definitely made things a little easier."
Article by Marine Cpl. Bobbie A. Curtis
Photo by Marine Cpl. M.M. Bravo��
2nd Marine Logistics Group
Special to American Forces Press Service
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