A family who serves together, stays together

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kedesha Pennant
  • 301st Fighter Wing

With a proud heritage of family members who served before them, one 301st Fighter Wing family household has accumulated 34 years of military service combined and counting as they serve the wing in various roles.

Capt. Lara Stahl, 301 FW Medical Squadron officer in-charge of immunizations and clinical nurse, Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Stahl, 301 FW Staff occupational safety superintendent, and Tech Sgt. Amanda Rehberg, 301 FW Force Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in-charge of customer support, all serve in the Air Force Reserve together. They each have a different role and story which adds to the wing’s mission and family.

“We got married, and he was gone one weekend a month, so I felt like I could do that too,” Capt. Stahl said. “He thought I could make a difference at our unit here, so I commissioned.”

She has been a Reservist for five years and is a family nurse practitioner in her civilian profession. Since joining the 301 FW MDS as a clinical nurse, Capt. Stahl stated how thankful she was for the leadership the squadron has and for working with an outstanding team of professionals.

When the Air Force Reserve mobilized its medical professionals to support Covid-19 relief, she was among the first responders sent to the Jacobi Medical Center in Bronx, New York. She relied on both her 16-year background in occupational health and trauma nurse experience to assist her in treating over 22,000 patients from April 5 through June 5.

“I collaborated with the leadership to produce a plan for how we would identify, isolate and care for [the health of] our medical team,” she said. “Luckily, none of them got sick or exposed, so we didn’t have to use the plan. It’s something we count as a blessing.”

Senior Master Sgt. Stahl has been in the Air Force for 21 years. His role is to lead his team in the overall safety of the wing. He gives commanders tools and controls to identify and mitigate hazards to make sound risk management decisions while also helping to ensure each wing member has the equipment and knowledge for a safe work environment.

“I love the people in my unit and helping them in one way or another,” he said. “I enjoy identifying risks and the challenge of coming up with a solutions to [ensure] people are safer. That’s why I [got into this career field].”

Being a military member who is married to another military member brings unique challenges in itself. While his wife was deployed, his main priority was taking care of their four kids—two of which already expressed interest in joining the Air Force.

“I felt like I was helping the cause just by staying with [my] family,” he said. “It was a different dynamic in the house, but I looked at it as a blessing. We all became a little closer.”

Through it all, the Stahl family learned several things. They learned how to remain resilient and that they can rely on the 301 FW community.

“It feels good when people reach out to you and give you their support. Going out of their way to make sure we were okay,” he said. “For an example when [my wife] was deployed, people made meals for us. That allowed me more time to be there for my wife [as she seen a lot of death and trauma during her deployment].”

He also added how special it is in the Reserve when Airmen get to meet each other’s family members, which sometimes happens at special events. His family, however, is on base with him and they serve together. For example, he and his daughter, Rehberg, happen to work in the same building and are both air reserve technicians.   

Rehberg has been in the Air Force Reserve for eight years. She assists members with benefits and entitlements and personnel support for contingency operations as a force support squadron Airman. She recalls one such operation where she processed 301 FW Airmen through the deployment line, Rehberg actually processed her stepmom, Capt. Stahl, when the medics deployed to support Covid-19 relief efforts in New York.

“She sent me a text saying she was going to deploy [the next day],” Rehberg said. “I was teleworking at the time when I was requested to come in [to process deployers].”

While Capt. Stahl was in New York City, she led a virtual reenlistment for Rehberg with the Empire State Building in the background.

As each family member works individually to accomplish their respective part of the 301st Fighter Wing mission—to train and deploy combat ready Airmen—they are able to lean on each other personally and professionally. Rehberg, who aspires to reach the top of the enlisted ranks as a chief master sergeant, has even modeled her leadership style from having her parents as examples.

“The passion behind how they are with their troops—I try to take that and make it my own in dealing with my troops,” Rehburg said. “As I progress with my leadership style, I can use that to make a difference.”

The impact felt does not only go one way. Senior Master Sgt. Stahl shared what he’s learned from his daughter.

“She always listens and always seems to be very thankful. Amanda is open to learning and receptive to ideas,” he said. “You have to be able to learn, grow, adapt and be flexible and [develop] ways to help others and be understanding. She is like a sponge in that regard.”

As the Stahl family continues serving at the 301 FW together, they’re undoubtedly thankful to do so.

“We work in different career fields, but we all work together,” he said. “We are constantly communicating with each other about work and how to help others. It’s a cool dynamic to have my family working here. It makes me want to do even better.”
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