Who is he?
In a 30-year U.S. Air Force career, Rudy Lopez
lived all over the world. His family roots run
200 years deep in Texas. But when he landed at
Fairchild AFB in Spokane in 2010, he realized he
never wanted to leave. The former Command
Chief Master Sergeant is one of Washington’s
As one of the highest-ranking NCOs in the
military, Lopez once managed the Air Force’s
pharmacy career field. In 2007, he was a medical
group superintendent at Joint Base Balad in
Iraq. “We were operating out of tents in a
dirty, dusty environment, yet we had a very
low infection rate—one that would compare
to any other facility. And our survival rate
eclipsed anything else in other combat zones,”
he says, emphasizing that the wounded warriors
deserved no less than the best.
After retiring from the Air Force in 2013, Lopez
became the director of the Washington State
Veterans Cemetery southwest of Spokane. It’s
the final resting place for some 3,000 veterans.
“This is the honor of a lifetime,” Lopez says.
“I’m blessed to have this job and to be able
to keep serving my country in this place. In all
those years of bouncing around, I had not seen
a community that embraces its military and
veterans like Eastern Washington.”