BAGRAM AIR FIELDS, Afghanistan – If people were to look at the last names, they wouldn’t be able to tell these two Air Force members were father and son, but for the last 18 years they have been inseparable, even on a deployment.
Master Sgt. Gregory McElvaney, assigned to Regional Command East Joint Theater Trauma Center, is the stepfather to Airman 1st Class Tyler Mills, assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Security Force Squadron here.
Mills moved in with McElvaney when he was 3-years-old, after McElvaney married his mother Jackie, during that time, McElvaney was already a member of the Air Force and so was his biological father and mother.
“Tyler has always been close to his real dad, who is still a friend of our family but he also has a very close relationship with Greg,” said Jackie McElvaney. “Greg coached his Tyler’s baseball and soccer teams when he was little.”
When Mills was 14 years old, he told his parents he wanted to join the Air Force.
“Tyler has known the military his whole life and has witnessed the long duty hours and deployments but I never tried to sway his opinion of joining,” said Greg, deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. “This is my fifth deployment, so I tried to educate him on the things he needed to do prior to leaving for his deployment to make it a little easier.”
They found out two weeks apart they would be deploying to the same base. However their deployment experiences are different; this will be McElvaney’s last and Mills’ first. McElvaney has been in twenty years now and plans on retiring after this deployment.
Mills, who has only been in a year and a half, said being deployed with his father on his first deployment has helped tremendously.
“If I have issues with home or work, I can just go across the base to talk to my dad about issues instead of waiting for a signal online to talk to him,” said Mills, deployed from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. My leadership coordinated it, so I get Father’s Day off so I can share it with him.”
The two still use Facebook to get a hold of each other to hang out on their time off. However because they work opposites shifts, they only get to share one day a week together.
“He is a cop and I am a medic,” said McElvaney. “ In the civilian world the two work hand-in-hand, but here he works nights and I work days. He gets days off, I only get hours. So I try to save my hours for his days off. When we can hang out together we play pool, watch a movie or eat dinner.”
Jackie said she was happy when she found out that they would both be assigned here together.
“Just knowing that he is near his dad makes me rest a little easier,” she said. “When they met up on their way there, I was told some of Tyler’s buddies were teasing him and one even said, ‘Dude, did you have to bring your dad on your first deployment?’ It was hilarious. I was thinking, ‘Who gets an opportunity like that?’”