War on Terrorism

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Face of Defense: Childhood Friends Reunite on Deployment

By Air Force Senior Airman Cierra Presentado
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, May 19, 2015 – Two airmen who were childhood friends and hadn’t seen each other for 18 years have been reunited by their deployments here.

Air Force Maj. Gregory Savella, 455th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron commander, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Vincent Fulgencio, 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of network operations, grew up minutes away from each other in Vacaville, California.

They said they never thought they would cross paths during their careers, but that after learning from family members that their deployments would reunite them, they were excited and ready to see each other again.

‘I Was Pretty Stoked to See My Friend Again’

“After I found out Fulgencio was coming to [Bagram], I was pretty stoked to see my friend again and be able to serve here with him,” Savella said. “We met up after he was settled in and were able to catch up on each other’s lives and talk about our childhood memories.”

When the airmen were boys, their families often got together for gatherings and attended church together.

“Our families were really close, and they still are to this day,” Fulgencio said. “Savella was like a big brother to me, and I always looked up to him. Our loved ones are beyond excited that we’re able to reconnect. It’s unbelievable for them.”

Living in a small military town, both men said, they knew they wanted to join the service. After joining and having families of their own, however, the two lost contact with one another.

“Eventually, I knew we had to let go of our childhood,” Savella said. “Being older than Fulgencio, I left home much sooner than he did to start my career. Although I would have liked to stay in contact with my friend, I knew that with our lives and careers and starting our own families, it would be difficult.”

Hoping for More Reunions

Over their Air Force careers, the two airmen never have returned to Vacaville to visit their loved ones at the same time. They hope to one day have their own families meet and be able to share the memories they had together with their children.

“It would be awesome to meet Major Savella’s family, I would like for our children to play and make memories, just like we did growing up,” Fulgencio said. “It would be just like old times having everyone back together.”

With Savella approaching the end of his one-year deployment and Fulgencio just starting his six-month tour, the airmen expressed how grateful they were to be able to see each other here.

“It’s been awesome, and I hope we run into each other again,” Savella said. “Being able to serve in a combat zone with my friend, who is now my fellow airman, has truly been a pleasure. I wish him nothing but the best, and I hope we see each other again.”

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