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Patriotic Article
Military

By Army Sgt. Kenneth Kumle and Spc. Thomas Sureau

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Ties That Bind - Brothers Meet In Afghanistan
(May 4, 2011)

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U.S. Army Master Sgt. Michael L. Crist, left, of Basehor, Kan., personnel officer for 3/6 Kansas Calvary Agribusiness Development Team, and brother, U.S. Army Capt. Gary L. Crist, right, of Hattiesburg, Miss., maintenance officer for the 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, take time to view the area around Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, April 18. 2011. The two Army National Guard soldiers are deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Photo by Army Sgt. Kenneth Kumle
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Michael L. Crist, left, of Basehor, Kan., personnel officer for 3/6 Kansas Calvary Agribusiness Development Team, and brother, U.S. Army Capt. Gary L. Crist, right, of Hattiesburg, Miss., maintenance officer for the 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, take time to view the area around Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, April 18. 2011. Photo by Army Sgt. Kenneth Kumle
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (4/30/2011) – It transcends rank, status and military occupation, this camaraderie that is our military family. We wear our DNA on our digital-camouflage uniforms, and our heritage in the sharp creases of our Class-A dress uniforms.

We collectively trace our family tree back through the monuments, black and white photos and history books. The shared undertaking of serving the U.S. military is something that has to be experienced to be understood. We live, eat, sleep, work and fight together, a fellowship of hardship and triumph that binds us together, unspoken, but understood. These same things make military service more special when you are able to come together with your direct relatives.

While not uncommon for family members to serve in the military simultaneously, it is rare to come together while deployed, unless serving under the same
command. It is a special occasion for brothers, Capt. Gary L. Crist and Master Sgt. Michael L. Crist, serving in separate commands, to then have an opportunity to meet on Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam in the Laghman province of Afghanistan.
“Our Dad was in Vietnam, our granddad served in World War II, and our great granddad served in World War I,” said Master Sgt. Michael Crist. Michael, of Basehor, Kan., is currently on his sixth overseas tour and is a well- respected member of the armor community as a tank master gunner.

“So it's a family tradition,” said Capt. Gary Crist. Gary, of Hattiesburg, Miss., is on his second deployment and has served in the air defense artillery branch for the past 12 years.

Michael, who serves as a division master gunner for the Kansas Army National Guard is currently deployed to Laghman with the 3/6 Kansas Calvary Agribusiness Development Team (KS ADT-3) as the S-1 personnel officer. Gary, who serves with the Mississippi Army National Guard's 184th Expeditionary Sustainment Command is currently deployed to Kandahar with the Joint Sustainment Command-Afghanistan (JSC-A) as the J-4 maintenance officer.

“I'm thankful to both of our commands for being supportive of getting us together,” says Gary. “It really is a blessing to be able to do this.”

While spending time together on FOB Mehtar Lam, the Crist brothers had an opportunity to go out on patrol together and assist with a market analysis.

“It's cool to get to do this with him,” said Michael. “It's the first, and probably the last time I'll get to do a combat patrol with a blood relative.”

“It really gives you a sense of perspective,” said Gary. “Being able to come down and see what the Agribusiness Development Team is doing on the ground is a lot different than working for a command group.”

In an era in which a video-call is just a click away, or a quick message sent with a thumb-dance on a keypad, having the opportunity to come together on a deployment is something appreciated by all. It is our collective consciousness, unspoken but shared, that shows in the unmistaken heredity of the Crist brothers and this family of ours, the U.S. Armed Forces.

By Army Sgt. Kenneth Kumle and Spc. Thomas Sureau
Laghman Agribusiness Development Team Public Affairs
Joint Sustainment Command - Afghanistan
Copyright 2011

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