Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar --
In the military, it’s not uncommon to hear the phrases “it’s a small world,” or “our paths will cross again;” however, for a staff sergeant deployed to the Middle East, those phrases would hit very close to home when she wasn’t greeted by a friend or a co-worker, but rather, her sister.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Heather Fejerang, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist, and her sister U.S. Air Force Capt. Monica Clements, the J1 director for Joint Special Operations Air Component – Central, are both currently deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
Natives of Roy, Washington, Fejerang and Clements are both sharing their first deployment experience and said that being together has only made their time here that much better.
“The best part of being deployed and my sister being here is getting to see her in action,” said Clements. “She is a very passionate person and I can see that clearly in her work. She gives her work, leaders and teammates only her best and it shows.”
Both deployed and stateside, the 6th Air Refueling Wing, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Fejerang is a broadcast journalist highlighting the mission of the respective unit she’s assigned to.
“What I like about my job is learning so much about everyone else’s part in the Air Force mission, doing something different every day and the endless possibilities of creativity at my fingertips in telling my subject’s story,” said Fejerang.
Clements, who has been deployed to Al Udeid since October 2019, is in charge of the manpower and personnel directorate for the JSOAC-C. She manages positions and personnel for the organization, which totals over 500 people in 11 units, across 13 locations in 8 countries. At her home unit, the 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, she is the Sustainment Services flight commander.
“This has been an eye opening experience that has made me grow and see many new things that I wouldn’t have been exposed to from home,” she said. “It has brought me a whole new appreciation for what we do at home and I will take these experiences with me when I return.”
Even though, Clements and Fejerang only have a few weeks to spend together, they said the fact that they’ve gotten to share this experience has made their deployment memorable.
“The best part about being deployed with my sister is just having that unspoken support that really close siblings share,” said Fejerang. “With COVID bringing added stress to her, myself and everyone around us, it’s an absolute relief to just be able to knock on her door for once and watch Frozen or just get a hug. We spend so much time away at our respective duty stations and temporary duty stations throughout the year, that’s not a luxury we afford too often.”
Fejerang also stated, that even though it’s great having her sister at Al Udeid with her it doesn’t feel that different than when she’s stateside due to their bond.
“Being deployed with my sister doesn’t feel significantly different because I’m always thinking of her and leaning on her for support in my own career,” said Fejerang. “She’s a great leader and Airmen in my opinion, and her journey in the Air Force has only made her more of a role model in my eyes.”
As one sibling completes her 9-month journey at Al Udeid, and one begins hers, Clements left one piece of advice to her younger sister.
“Deployed life is a marathon that feels like daily sprints,” Clements said. “Know what the end goal is early on and work towards it. Before you know it you will have more days behind you than ahead of you. Make sure you can measure progress in the right direction from all the time spent here.”
Enjoying their final week deployed together at Al Udeid, the sisters might be saying farewell to each other soon; however, there’s one thing they will never have to say goodbye to – their bond as sisters.