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Uncle, niece serve together in Iraq

BALAD AIR BASE, IRAQ -- When serving halfway around the world, many service members treasure the little tokens they take with them to remind them of friends and family back home.

For Senior Master Sgt. Michael Brimmer, 332nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron first sergeant, and his niece, Army Spc. Angela Fekken, 1436th Engineer Company, Logistics Support Area Anaconda, they have more than a small piece of home. They have each other.

Specialist Fekken, a truck driver, has been deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq, for about a year. Her presence played a big factor in her uncle’s decision to come to Balad. Sergeant Brimmer is an Air Force Reservist assigned to the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

“I volunteered to deploy and was given a list of places I could go to,” the sergeant said. “I picked Balad because Angie was there already.”

When Specialist Fekken came home for her mid-tour leave in July, Sergeant Brimmer met with her to learn about where he would be deploying.

“She gave me a rundown on what to expect,” Sergeant Brimmer said. “She showed me photos of LSA Anaconda and really put me at ease about coming here. I thought it was going to be a barren desert, but the photos she had showed different.”

When Sergeant Brimmer arrived, he began searching for his niece.

“It took more than a month to get in contact with Angie,” Sergeant Brimmer said. “We tried to get in touch with each other over (official) e-mail, but for some reason the messages kept getting rejected. My wife ended up having to give my personal e-mail address to her sister, who was able to pass it on to Angie.”

The sergeant and specialist come from a large but close family. Maintaining this sense of closeness was important to the uncle and niece.

“It’s a great comfort to know we have family here we can talk to and are able to see the friendly, smiling face of a family member,” Specialist Fekken said.

Because of job requirements, the two are not able to get together as often as they would like, but they take advantage of every opportunity they do get.

“We look forward to getting together and having a chance to catch up on what we’ve both been doing here as well as what’s going on back home,” Specialist Fekken said.

Family members in the states were also glad that, for part of their deployments, the two would be together.

“They were pretty excited that we’d both be serving at the same time and at the same base, especially my mom and my aunt, his wife,” Specialist Fekken said. «

(Sergeant Moore is assigned to the 332nd Aerospace Expeditionary Wing public affairs office at Balad AB.)

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