UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - One airman had a goal to deploy once
before his career came to a close, another was scheduled to deploy
in September but had to depart earlier because of a shortfall. Each
was destined for this particular base in Southwest Asia.
Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Doss is a 22-year veteran deployed from
the 452nd Civil Engineer Squadron at March Air Force Base, Calif.
He's a traditional reservist who is getting ready to complete his
military career. But he wanted to deploy at least once before that
career was over.
Sergeant Doss was born in Sweetwater, Texas,
but moved to California with his mother when he was only two years
old after his parents separated. Known back then as Joey, he saw his
father every other weekend for the next ten years only to lose
contact when his dad's job transferred him back to Sweetwater.
Joey saw his dad one more time at 15, meeting some family
members for the first time, including a two-year-old brother he
never knew. That was the last time he had any contact with his
father's side of the family.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Doss'
family has always lived in Sweetwater. However, because of a
complication, his mother gave birth in a Lubbock, Texas, hospital.
He and his family grew up in a simple lifestyle with his older half
brother and sister and his little brother always by his side.
Chris only has five years on active duty. He works as an Aero
Repair specialist at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. His normal
rotation was scheduled for this fall, but when another Airman
couldn't fill the spot, Doss volunteered, deploying six months
This slight change in their normal military activities
would bring a monumental shift in their lives.
On a mild
February day, Senior Master Sgt. Doss and Senior Master Sgt. Dwayne
Hopkins, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, were walking
past the flight line dining facility when they passed another Airman
with the same last name.
"Hey Doss, meet Doss," Sergeant
Hopkins said. The two Doss' began quizzing each other to learn if
there was a connection in their family trees.
discovered Staff Sgt. Christopher Doss was born in Lubbock, Texas,
but grew up in Sweetwater.
The senior master sergeant
exclaimed, "Oh, I have an uncle who lives in Lubbock."
I," Staff Sgt. Doss said.
Senior Master Sgt. Doss hesitated
before asking, "What's your dad's name?"
Staff Sgt. Doss
replied, "Daniel L. Doss."
Looking over at Hopkins, Senior
Master Sgt. Doss exclaimed, "You won't believe this! This is my
"I could see the wheels turning and the lights
going on in both their heads," said Sergeant Hopkins, "as they
realized they were brothers meeting for the first time in the desert
of all places."
Staff Sgt. Doss asked, "What... what's your
"Joseph," remarked Senior Master Sgt. Doss.
The younger Doss was mesmerized - could it be true? He recalled
his parents mentioning he had an older brother named Joey. "At that
moment, I was stunned. My brain couldn't comprehend what was
happening here. Could this actually be my brother standing there in
front of me?"
Time seemed to stand still for the two brothers
as they pitched question after question to each other. However, this
fortuitous meeting had to end... what seemed like an hour for the
brothers was only a few minutes and duty called. They gave each
other the traditional farewell - a sturdy handshake - and were off
on their own missions.
Both Airmen were disoriented by the
meeting and discombobulated the rest of the day. The staff sergeant
anxiously called home to notify his mother in Sweetwater about the
meeting. "She was just as shocked as we were." The older brother had
a similar reaction ... he was trying to decide how he was going to
tell his wife and family, especially his mom, how he had met Chris
halfway around the world.
Still taken aback by the day's
events, Staff Sgt. Doss took every opportunity to share his amazing
story the rest of the day, telling those he knew how he met his
brother here. The two actually emailed each other at the same time,
hours later, stating they needed to get together and expand upon on
that morning's conversation.
Now, one month after that
momentous day, they feel as if they've known each other for years.
"We just sit and talk about growing up, things we've done, and what
we want to accomplish out of life," said Staff Sgt. Doss.
"It's tough to get together sometimes," said the older of the two.
"Our schedules don't really match. I meet him over at Roy's [dining
facility] for dinner on my day off and he comes over to the Oasis
[dining facility] on his day off."
One event on both of their
minds now is Chris' upcoming wedding day. "I really want my brother
to be there in July if he can, but his return date isn't until after
my wedding." The two are still discussing plans to get together when
they return from this deployment, which shouldn't be too difficult;
they both live in California, only eight hours apart.
emails and phone conversations, the two have discovered a lot about
each other... but there's still so much to learn, and both agree, it
still feels like a dream. Separated as young children, these two
Airmen have been reunited by the call to duty and selfless service -
they are truly "Brothers in Arms."
By USAF Master Sgt. Julie Briden-Garcia
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