When brothers and sisters spend their entire childhoods together, they normally want to go their separate ways when they reach adulthood. Some join the military, but most remain civilians.
For some siblings, they not only join the military, they find themselves deployed to the same location more than 6,000 from where they grew up.
Two such siblings are Staff Sgt. Shawn and Senior Airman Nicholas Klein. They are brothers assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group. Klein is deployed from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Air Reserve Station, Minn., while Airman Klein is deployed from Grand Forks AFB, N.D.
Although they are members of different squadrons, being deployed in the same area of responsibility at the same time has actually increased the time the brothers spend together, especially after arranging to have the same day off. “I haven’t had the opportunity to spend this much time with my brother since he joined the Air Force in 2004,” said Sergeant Klein, a native of Delano, Minn.
“Not that it makes a deployment any less stressful, but it does make it more enjoyable,” he said. “It is nice to be able to work out, run, and talk together. It’s kind of like catching up on old times with a friend you hadn’t seen in a while.”
Having deployed here once before, Airman Klein welcomed the chance to help Sergeant Klein during his first deployment to Southwest Asia. “I was happy to come back here and be able to spend time with my brother,” Airman Klein said. “The saying ‘home is where the heart is’ comes to mind since I’ve known my brother my whole life and just having him here in the same place makes it seem more like home.”
Since Sergeant Klein is active-duty while Airman Klein is a reservist, their being deployed together was rather unique. For the following members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard deployed here from Volk Field, Wis., as part of the 71st Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, deploying with a sibling is a bit more common.
Staff Sgts. Seth and Robbie Swieter are natives of Onalaska, Wis. and have served together for four years. Robbie said his decision to join the Air Force was influenced by his brother.
“Since Seth was active-duty Air Force he convinced me to go Blue too,” Robbie said, referring to the time he made his decision to join the military.
Even though they are assigned to the same unit, they don’t work in the same shop and, in fact, are on different shifts.
“We actually see each other more back home since we live together,” Robbie said.
While they may not have much time together off-duty, Robbie said that having his brother does help with the stress of a deployment.
“He knows when something is on your mind without a word ever being spoken,” he said, “that is the difference between a Wingman and a sibling.”
Capt. Jeannie Horn also joined the Air Force following a brother, Capt. Michael Western.
“After she learned about the Air National Guard and what it had to offer, it was an easy decision to jump on board,” said Captain Western of his sister, both of whom hail from Boyd, Wis.
The brother and sister captains also don’t have much time to see each other during their deployment.
“We have both been amazingly busy,” Captain Horn said. “we only see each other in passing.” However, Captain Horn said not having much time to see her brother isn’t a problem.
“We are both independent,” Captain Horn said. “Mike is working on improving his run time and I am taking some classes.”
While Captains Western and Horn don’t mind not seeing each other, Capt. Christopher Divyak and his sister Tech. Sgt. Katharine Divyak see each other very often. They work in the same shop on the same shift.
Sergeant Divyak explained further. “We sit on-scope [monitoring radar screens] together at the same time but do different jobs,” she said. “It only gets confusing when someone yells ‘Hey, Divyak!’”
The Divyaks have deployed together before to Afghanistan. Captain Divyak said that working with a sibling is no different than any other person in the Air Force. “We respect each other’s position and rank,” the Tomah, Wis., native said.
Sergeant Divyak agreed with her brother. “I don’t get any special treatment from him,” she said. “If anything, he’ll come to me first when there’s work to be done. Our co-workers get in a good laugh waiting to see how I’ll address him.”
Captain and Sergeant Divyak both agree that being deployed together keeps the stress down and Captain Divyak cited one more benefit to having his sister with him.
“It saves Ma and Pa postage since they only have to send one package to cover both of us!”