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We Are The Freedom Wing: Weekend getaway for Mr. and Mrs. Jimenez

UTA Weekend

Master Sgt. John R. Jimenez and Staff Sgt. Elizabeth C. Jimenez stand on the hull of an M1A2 Abrams tank at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., July 18, 2021. Members of the 35th Aerial Port Squadron supported joint training operations with the New Jersey National Guard during the July unit training assembly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Stephen J. Caruso)

UTA Weekend

Master Sgt. John R. Jimenez and Staff Sgt. Elizabeth C. Jimenez stand on the hull of an M1A2 Abrams tank at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., July 18, 2021. Members of the 35th Aerial Port Squadron supported joint training operations with the New Jersey National Guard during the July unit training assembly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Stephen J. Caruso)

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. --

For Reserve Citizen Airmen, unit training assembly weekends often mean being away from family. The sacrifices married couples face when one spouse leaves for the weekend can be a challenge for relationships. But for Staff Sgt. Elizabeth C. Jimenez and Master Sgt. John R. Jimenez, drill is a chance to reconnect as a couple. 

The Jimenezes both serve in the 35th Aerial Port Squadron, traveling to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from their home in Parsippany, New Jersey, each month for UTA. 

Elizabeth is an aerial transportation specialist and elementary school teacher in her civilian life. Her husband, John, serves as a passenger service supervisor and works as an operations manager in a logistics company in his civilian career. 

The Jimenezes have worked together in the 35th APS for several years, but they didn’t really get to know each other until a deployment to Kuwait in 2016, when they worked in the same section. The married couple looks forward to drill weekends as a chance to spend dedicated time together without their two children that they otherwise might not have, Elizabeth said.

“Having UTA, coming down to drill, we consider it our ‘us’ time, because we don’t have the kids,” she said. “We work in separate sections, but we still go out to dinner. It’s really nice.”

“Every time we see each other in uniform, it’s a reminder of what brought us together,” Elizabeth added.

Despite the challenges of balancing family life with their individual Reserve commitments, they are able to plan military duty into their calendars with the help of family.

“We have a really strong support system: family,” Elizabeth said. “They help us out when we’re down here. Family is our anchor.”