HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
From enlisting the same year to retiring at the same time, one dual-military couple from Hill Air Force Base have balanced a healthy marriage and family with serving their country together.
Senior Master Sgt. Emmanuel Ramirez, 729th Air Control Squadron, and Senior Master Sgt. Angelica Ramirez, 75th Force Support Squadron, have each served in the Air Force 26 years while married for 24 of those years. Their retirement ceremony is May 27.
The Ramirezes enlisted just a couple months apart in 1995 – Emmanuel from Los Angeles and Angelica from El Paso, Texas. They both arrived at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for their first duty station. They met in the spring of 1996 rollerblading with mutual friends on the Las Vegas strip and were immediately attracted to each other. They started dating and married a year later to the day they met.
Emmanuel said they were meant to be. “On a trip to Los Angeles, Angelica was telling me how she used to live in LA. As it turns out, she grew up in the same neighborhood my grandmother lived in. It’s a good possibility I ran into her at the corner store. It’s where her dad would cash his checks and I bought my candy,” he said.
The couple said they have loved being in the Air Force and how great it has been for their careers and family. They were able to be stationed together at Nellis for nearly ten years, giving them stability at the start of their growing family.
The Air Force accommodates military-to-military married couples with the Assignment of Military Couples option, commonly known as a “joint spouse” assignment, which allows them to be stationed together at the same installation or different installations nearby. Currently, there are over 30,000 active duty members married to another active duty member in the Air Force.
However, like for every service member, deployments and temporary duty assignments are commonplace, which can be challenging for dual military families.
“We both understood this life,” said Angelica. “We both understood we would have to do things we didn’t want to do. So, we chose to support each other no matter what and remember what it was like to be either the one deployed or the one at home running things.”
Emmanuel said there were times they had to deploy at the same time and rely on their Family Care Plan to ensure the safe care of their children while away.
“It is never easy, leaving our kids is and always was a challenge, but we both knew what needed to be done and that we were waiting for each other upon our return,” said Emmanuel.
While it was challenging, the couple enjoyed their deployments and said they have great memories and stories. Emmanuel said they’ve been able to support each other in their career choices and learned the most imperative tool to a great military-to-military marriage is communication.
“Just because both of you are serving, one is not more important than the other. No one person is a mind reader. Let each other know what is going on,” he said would be his advice for other couples.
Angelica said being in a military marriage is hard and like all relationships, it is something they have to constantly work at. “But the one thing I know is we have each other’s back 100% in everything and anything,” she said.
Angelica said there have been a couple other times they thought about retiring, but the Air Force kept offering great opportunities for their careers, such as recruiting duty for Emmanuel and Angelica being selected as the career assistance advisor.
With a total of 52-years between them, they both agree it’s time to say good-bye to the Air Force. They plan to retire in Las Vegas where they have already starting building a house.
Their daughter, Emma, plans to start her freshman year there at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Their son, Justyn, graduated last year from the University of Utah. In addition, Emmanuel said they want to travel – vacation travel – not military deployments.
“First thing on the agenda after retirement, a trip to Hawaii,” he said.