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SALT LAKE CITY -- Tech. Sgt. Shonda Arocha with the Air Sustainment Wing out of Hill Air Force Base was deployed in Afghanistan for the last six months. Her husband Tech. Sgt. Manny Arocha is also active duty with the Air Force.
Between the two of them, they have 28 years of experience in the Air Force. But Sunday brought them back together as a family with their two young boys, Manny and Izzy, as family and friends celebrated.
"My wife is my wife, my best friend, but she's also an airman," Manny said. "I just want to say I'm proud of her."
Shonda can now add Afghanistan to the list of deployments in her 15 year military career. She's been to Iraq and Kuwait, too, and so has her husband.
"It's been hard with the sacrifices. It's hard to be separated from your family but i have a job to do," Shonda said.
"Being in the Air Force, we miss our family," Manny said. "But it's worth it. We know what we're doing, what we signed up for and what we are willing to sacrifice."
For the six months his wife was at war, Manny performed double-duty.
"It's been hard. My little one, there's been days when he asks for mommy. When daddy says no to something he really gets asking for mommy," Manny said. "But for the most part, they've done really well."
Three sports seasons passed since they were all together, so he shuttled the boys to their games, and held down his job as a recruiter - even if his son gives him grief.
"He's been like the worst mom ever," said Manny Jr.
Being in the Air Force, we miss our family. But it's worth it. We know what we're doing, what we signed up for and what we are willing to sacrifice.
–- Manny Arocha
The Arochas knows other families make similar sacrifices. Yet, the dual military couple, with multiple combat deployments each is a new reality for American fighting families.
"A lot of people don't realize it who aren't in the military, but it's a big sacrifice," Manny said.
They've had a lot of help from friends, but the family is happy to get back together.
"I just want my wife to be home safe, and see my sons faces when they see their mother," he said.
Before they head home, though, their first stop after the airport is McDonald's. Shonda is a big fan of the McRib and found out while she was deployed that the sandwich is back and can't wait to taste it.