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Like father like son

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Valerie Hosea
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
"I heard people from the hangar calling out 'Sergeant Val, Sergeant Val, Sergeant Val,' as we walked by on this base that was foreign to me. I was surprised, so I asked out loud 'Who knows me out here?' My son answered 'Dad this is my playground. I'm in the Air Force too'," said Carlos Valenzuela, 363rd Training Squadron instructor.

That was when Mr. Valenzuela, more commonly known as Mr. Val, realized he and his son would follow similar career paths in the U.S. Air Force.

Mr. Valenzuela said he joined the Air Force in 1978 and his son, Tech. Sgt. Paul Valenzuela, 321st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron and deployed from 60th Maintenance Squadron, followed in his footsteps in 1993.

"My father had a big influence on me joining the Air Force," said Sergeant Valenzuela, more commonly known as Sergeant Val. "Even as a young child when my father and his friends would talk about work, I was always interested. I grew up around aircraft ... it's easy to see why I followed the same path. I am proud to do what I do, and I have no one but my father to thank for that."

"I remember when I first told him I wanted to join," Sergeant Valenzuela said. "He looked and me and asked if I was really serious. After I told him yes, he has been extremely supportive of my decision. It is actually pretty cool to be able to talk aircraft maintenance and compare the then and now aspects of the job. Some things never change. "

The Valenzuelas both started their careers as crew chiefs, Mr. Valenzuela said.

"I worked on the F-4, F-16 and F-117 and he worked on the heavies. I told him not to choose to be a crew chief in the Air Force, because he would never be home. He said 'Dad, the reason I chose that is because I want to be just like you.' I will never forget that day," Mr. Valenzuela said with a smile.

After being in the Air Force for 22 years, Mr. Valenzuela retired and became an officer's maintenance course instructor. His son recently followed his father's career path again and became a King Air intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance advisor. The Iraqi air force uses King Air aircraft as part of its fleet for surveillance, light cargo, training and other uses.

"As an instructor your end result is to get your students to reach a certain pre-determined goal, either by showing system knowledge or task comprehension," Sergeant Valenzuela said. "In advising, our goal is not to make the Iraqis do it like us, but to allow them to develop their standard of doing things, with U.S. Air Force guidance."

While the two jobs are different, the overall goal is the same -- sharing knowledge.

"My son is an advisor, but we're both instructors in a way because we teach and pass knowledge on to others," he said. "For example, I teach young officers how to be leaders and my son is teaching Iraqi airmen valuable techniques that our Air Force practices."

Mr. Valenzuela said he felt inexplicable pride when he learned about his son's wanting to teach.

"What parent wouldn't have been proud at that moment?," Mr. Valenzuela said. "I told my co-workers if they see me walking on air it's because of the fact that I'm proud of what my son has done."