30-year career, marriage depends on balance, commitment

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Danielle Grannan
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
Two Chief Master Sgts. here celebrated not only their combined 60-years of military service at a retirement ceremony July 6, but also their 30-year journey as a married couple in the Air Force.

Chief Master Sgt. Lisa Sirois, 55th Wing command chief, and her husband Chief Master Sgt. Roger Sirois, 55th Communications Squadron superintendent, were joined by several hundred friends and family members at the Patriot Club July 6 in the culminating event of their distinguished careers in the Air Force.

"They are the keepers of the flame for our Air Force family," said Brig. Gen. John N.T. Shanahan, 55th Wing commander and presiding official. "They have looked upon that duty seriously for the last 30 years. It is their responsibility to take care of our Airmen. At the same time, they have been and continue to be the enforcers of the standards ... It's about responsibility and accountability and I watched both of them do that in the course of our time here and I know they did that throughout their entire 30-year careers."

The chiefs became high school sweethearts in Limestone, Maine, after Chief (Lisa) Sirois' stepfather was stationed at nearby Loring AFB her sophomore year.

They both had a family history of military service, with her stepfather and his brother both serving in the Air Force and his father serving in the Korean War.

When Chief (Lisa) Sirois decided to join the Air Force, "I decided if I wanted to be with her, I was joining the Air Force too," Chief (Roger) Sirois said with a laugh.

The two enlisted together and got married before they left for Basic Military Training late summer of 1980.

Through the more than 15 assignments and remote tours during their Air Force careers, both believe they have been blessed.

"We only spent two remote tours apart and were lucky enough to get joint spouse assignments the rest of the time," said Chief (Roger) Sirois. "We don't complain- they put us together as a family, we both have jobs, we both have income and we're both doing what we love."

With the current national divorce rate hovering around 50 percent and military divorce rates no better, a 30-year marriage between two military members is unheard of to many.

"While I haven't been able to get the proof, I'm 99.9 percent positive that they are the only two people on active duty today who came into the Air Force together and are now retiring at the same time," said General Shanahan. "What an incredible accomplishment!"

"We really have a give-and-take relationship," Chief (Lisa) Sirois commented. "That's what has made our careers and marriage successful over 30 years. If he wanted to go somewhere or do something, I would take whatever special duty I could get to be with him and vice versa. It was an incredible experience."

That give and take, along with a healthy dose of commitment and balance, are what they both recommend to anyone in the military, especially families.

"It's all about commitment. If you're committed to what you're doing, whether it's the Air Force, at home or even a hobby you have, it doesn't matter," said Chief (Lisa) Sirois. "If you stay committed, it will typically work out."

You also have to have balance, she added. With the frequent deployments Airmen are enduring today, you have to balance your focus on your family and your job to be successful, she said.

Pride in each other's accomplishments doesn't hurt either.

"My best moment in my career would probably be the day he made chief," Chief (Lisa) Sirois said, looking at her husband. "I was so excited for him, for where we are today."
"I caught up to her," Chief (Roger) Sirois said about his wife who was first to pin on the Air Force's top enlisted stripe. "She's a sprinter; she takes off and you either keep up or you fall behind. But what a running partner!"

Though they are leaving active duty after 30 years of service, they have left their mark and are equally as marked by that service.

"I will say the impact they have had on Airmen and our service is irreplaceable," said General Shanahan. "We can't duplicate what they have done, and the impact they have had on so many thousands of Airmen during the course of their respective 30-year careers. That is something I will never forget and I want to say thank you. Thank you for your service to the U.S. Air Force, thank you for your service to our country. You may be replaced, but you will never be duplicated."

"I leave my career with a great deal of pride," said Chief (Roger) Sirois. "Not only in what my country's asked me to do and what I've done, but also what my wife's done, what we've done as a team. I leave with a great deal of pride and a great deal of amazement at what our Air Force does for our country."