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Wyverns connect to make friends and build families

Airman 1st Class Katie Rivera, 606th Air Control Squadron radar systems technician at  Aviano Air Base, Italy, poses for a picture with her friends. (Courtesy Photo)

Airman 1st Class Katie Rivera, 606th Air Control Squadron radar systems technician (left) at Aviano Air Base, Italy, poses for a picture with her friends. (Courtesy Photo)

Senior Airman Dylan Gauthier, 31st Security Forces Squadron internal security response team at 
Aviano Air Base, Italy, poses for a picture with his friends. (Courtesy Photo)

Senior Airman Dylan Gauthier, 31st Security Forces Squadron internal security response team (center right) at Aviano Air Base, Italy, poses for a picture with his friends. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Danielle Lucero, 31st Fighter Wing public affairs officer at Aviano Air Base, Italy, poses for a picture with her friends. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Danielle Lucero, 31st Fighter Wing public affairs officer (center left) at Aviano Air Base, Italy, poses for a picture with her friends. (Courtesy Photo)

AVIANO AIR BASE, iTALY --

As the old saying goes, ‘we choose our friends, not our family.’ The personal and positive nature of friendship is voluntary and may often be the best of occurrences.

“Making friends overseas is probably one of the best experiences you can have,” said Senior Airman Dylan Gauthier, 31st Security Forces Squadron internal security response team. "Not only do you get to meet people who come from all over the country or world, but you all share one common thing, and that’s being far from home.”

Being stationed overseas can provide an opportunity to dive into the local community and gain friendships that teach you about their culture and values.

“Many of my Italian friends are family-oriented and value their history,” said Airman 1st Class Yovahn Marroquin, 31st Security Forces Squadron patrolman. “When I travel and I see their history everywhere it truly makes me appreciate Italy, and when I see how close they are with family it just reminds me to continue to keep my family involved.”

One of the benefits about being stationed overseas is the accessibility to travel.

“When I first came to Aviano, it was hard because it was the first time in my life that I lived by myself and didn’t know anyone around,” said 1st Lt. Danielle Lucero, 31st Fighter Wing public affairs officer.

Lucero said she initially travelled alone for six months until she overcame the fear of traveling with people she didn’t know. She went on her first trip with other company-grade officers, and since then has made the most amazing friends at Aviano.

No matter how the friendship is made or who it is with, it can provide an opportunity to share experiences which may last a lifetime.

“Making connections in different places, whether it be lifelong or just for the time being, is always a beautiful thing,” said Airman 1st Class Katie Rivera, 606th Air Control Squadron radar systems technician.  “Developing those friendships and making lifelong memories, especially while stationed overseas, can really enhance your overall experience wherever you are.”

At times having people to count on and be vulnerable with makes a difference in how we deal with everyday challenges.

Capt. Allison Anderson-Dupuis, 31st Force Support Squadron sustainment services flight commander said it is important to recognize there will be days you will need to lean on your friends and other days they will need to lean on you. It won’t be equal or even at times, but if you’re having a strong day, it’s important to support and its okay to need support on the days you are weak.

In the military, friends can become family.

“Living on the other side of the world by yourself — no matter your age or rank— is hard at times, and being able to make that connection with friends at Aviano gives a sense of family,” said Lucero.