San Diego siblings reunite at Kirkuk

Tech. Sgt. Richard Rositas (left) and his sister Staff Sgt. Cindy Rositas share their recent reunion with Brig. Gen. Robin Rand, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Scott Dearduff, 332 AEW command chief master sergeant. The siblings were reunited at Kirkuk Regional Air Base for the 506th Sir Expeditionary Group change of command ceremony May 25. Tech. Sgt. Rositas is the executive assistant to the 332 AEW command chief at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Staff Sgt. Rositas is asigned to the 506 AEG Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Kirkuk Regional Air Base. (Photo courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Richard Rositas)

Tech. Sgt. Richard Rositas (left) and his sister Staff Sgt. Cindy Rositas share their recent reunion with Brig. Gen. Robin Rand, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Scott Dearduff, 332 AEW command chief master sergeant. The siblings were reunited at Kirkuk Regional Air Base for the 506th Sir Expeditionary Group change of command ceremony May 25. Tech. Sgt. Rositas is the executive assistant to the 332 AEW command chief at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Staff Sgt. Rositas is asigned to the 506 AEG Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Kirkuk Regional Air Base. (Photo courtesy of Tech. Sgt. Richard Rositas)

KIRKUK REGIONAL AB, Iraq -- Many things are common at a change of command ceremony -- high-ranking visitors, emotional speeches, pomp and circumstance ... a family reunion. 

When Tech Sgt. Richard Rositas, executive assistant to Chief Master Sgt. Scott Dearduff, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing command chief master sergeant, recently stepped off a C-130 here, he had the chance to reconnect with his sister. 

On base with wing leadership for the 506th Air Expeditionary Group change of command, Sergeant Rositas was a welcome sight for his sister, Staff Sgt. Cindy Rositas, a member of March Air Reserve Base's 452nd Security Forces Squadron and currently deployed, working with the 506th AEG, Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. 

The siblings hadn't seen each other in almost five months, with four months of the separation due to the female Sergeant Rositas' deployment to Kirkuk. 

"I didn't tell her about (the visit) and hadn't talked to her for a few days prior because I wanted it to be a surprise," said Tech. Sgt. Rositas, who is deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, from Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. 

"She's a sharp one though, so she was quick to figure out there was something going on," he said, referring to his sister's assignment to the distinguished visitor's security
escort detail. 

"It was a true blessing," Sergeant Rositas said of seeing her brother. 

After their initial embrace, which according to the male Rositas, almost knocked him over due to his sister's excitement and the extra weight of his "battle rattle" (body armor
and Kevlar helmet), they shared their first face-to-face words -- "Don't cry!" 

"My boss, (Chief Dearduff), told me there wasn't anything wrong with 'squirtin' some tears' in a war zone," he said. 

With the initial shock and emotion of their reunion in check, the brother and sister Airmen attended the change of command ceremony and then Kirkuk's Sergeant Rositas, deployed from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., took her brother on a tour of the base and introduced him to some of her fellow Airmen. 

Lunch, and some time for the San Diego, Calif., natives to catch up, followed. 

"... (We) talked about our family and friends, missing our cars ... our two mutts Diabla and Maggie, and so on," said the male Rositas. 

Both siblings agreed they worry about how their mother is dealing with their simultaneous deployments, but they both share a strong sense of duty and patriotism that helps curb those worries. 

"I tell (my mother) ... we're just doing our part," Tech Sgt. Rositas said. "Like a mechanic
who goes to work and knows he or she will be fixing cars that day ... I'm in the Air Force . I get up like those folks do in the morning, know what I have to do - and do it because that's what is expected of me." 

"We both could not have asked for a better opportunity to serve our country," said Staff Sgt. Rositas, referring to both their Air Force careers and their current billets. 

In summing up the visit, big brother emphasized how important the time with his sister was. 

"It was the best day I've had in a long time, stateside or in Iraq," he said. "She's my best
friend, and I wouldn't know what to do without her."