BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
Deploying abroad is typical for service members in the U.S. military. It means an extended period away, little contact with family or friends and relying on other service members during those hard times while so far from home. This is the reality for most Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in Afghanistan, except for the Briggs brothers.
Two brothers, in separate branches of service, ended up deployed to the same location. Specialist Leon Briggs, the eldest brother and first member of his family to enlist in the armed forces, has been serving as a vehicle mechanic in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel with the 1-87th Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Infantry Division in the Mohmand Valley.
“I was extremely excited, and a bit nervous, when I found out that my brother and I were going to be at Bagram Air Field together,” said Leon. “It was great for me on the hard days; I used it as motivation that I would get to see my brother if I can just get through the mission.”
Leon’s younger brother, Senior Airman Elliot Briggs, a maintenance analyst technician with the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group, is just starting his deployment.
“It's been the best month in my military career,” said Elliot. “Considering Bagram is a combat zone, having the ability to walk down the street from my dorm and meet up with my brother for lunch is very fortunate.”
Being able to relate to their childhood past, and make references between then and now was exactly what Leon needed before heading home.
“Seeing my brother here [at Bagram] took away a lot of unsettling emotions that I gained throughout my time here,” said Leon. “I spent a great amount of time in other areas of Afghanistan, which wasn’t the best to dwell for a long period. Coming back to BAF, and connecting with my brother, helped me transition back into a normal routine of life.”
To Elliot, it’s the little things they do together that are unforgettable.
“Sometimes, we'd go to the MWR and play videogames like the old days,” said Elliot. “Who would have thought that a military deployment would bring back similar days we spent as kids growing up?”
One of Elliot’s most memorable moments was visiting the barracks where Leon lives and hanging out with the soldiers that kept his brother safe.
“We are taught about resiliency as soldiers and airmen, but it’s an entire other thing to deal with the difficult things we do when it’s your own flesh and blood in a combat zone,” said Elliot. “I know my brother feels a little better after meeting with my fellow airmen who I will be serving alongside.”
This is the first time the two brothers were able to serve in uniform alongside one another, and even though Leon is scheduled to depart Afghanistan soon, the brothers know they are a text message away if they need to talk.