CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan (Nov. 20, 2011) - Cpl. Axel Benitez (left), a radio operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 1, poses for a picture with his brother Cpl. Luis Benitez, a data network specialist with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. This is the first time the brothers have seen each other in more than 2 years and the first time as Marines. Photo by USMC Cpl. Colby Brown
| ||CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan (11/21/2011) — When Cpl. Axel Benitez joined the Marine Corps more than three years ago, he never thought his younger brother would follow in his footsteps. |
It's been more than two years since they last met. Benitez arrived to Afghanistan with Combat Logistics Battalion 1 as a radio operator, in early October, only to find that his brother was in the same country. Much has changed since they last spoke; his brother now wears the eagle, globe and anchor and corporal chevrons as well.
“I never thought he was going to join the Marine Corps,” said Axel, 21, and a native of Worchester, Mass. “So being able to see him here, in cammies is a great opportunity. When we were little, we were close ... always together. And after not seeing him for while, it was emotional — hard not to cry.”
Only hours before staging for his flight home, Cpl. Luis Benitez shared lunch with his brother. Luis is a data network specialist with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and has spent the last seven months serving in Garmsir district. This was the first time the brothers had spent together as Marines.
“It's been a long time since I have been with any family at all,” said Luis, 20, also a native of Worchester, Mass. “And after seven months being here, with a group of guys that I don't know that well, it's good to see him. It's good to see family.”
“It's almost like a reward being able to see him,” Luis added. “I've been stressed for the past seven months and then right before I leave I get to see my brother. And for him, its just motivation seeing me. He still has a deployment left.”
Axel describes their relationship as close when they were younger, as the brothers were rarely being seen apart. They fought and argued as many siblings do, but always had each other's backs.
Though their time together has been minimal since both brothers became Marines, their bond has only been strengthened by the brotherhood of the Corps.
“I haven't seen him in a while,” said Axel. “So knowing that I got to see him while he was out here is comforting. And the fact the he just finished a deployment and I am about to go through my second means both of us will have someone to talk to when we get home.”
Their similarities are apparent at first glance. Both have full lips, bushy eyebrows and wear identical uniforms. Although meeting up in Afghanistan isn't the most ideal reunion, both wore full-toothed grins.
“The Corps can change a person, make them into a Marine, but it can't change the relationships they have,” said Axel.
Most service members with relatives or immediate family also in the military, relationships are usually maintained via the internet or over the phone. Constant deployments and equally hectic schedules make it nearly impossible to set a compatible rendezvous date. When the chance arises to spend face time with one another, the opportunity is rarely missed.
For Axel, this meant asking his supervisor for a longer lunch period. For Luis, it meant soaking up the minutes with his brother before he began his journey back home.
“If you are in the military and have a relative who is also in, it's hard to find time to spend with them,” said Axel. “So being able just to spend a couple hours with them is a great opportunity.”
By USMC Cpl. Colby Brown
Regimental Combat Team-5, 1st Marine Division
Provided through DVIDS
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