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Brothers Share The Marines and Afghanistan
by USMC Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr. - August 8, 2012

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HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (8/2/2012) - Brothers in arms, a term known by many Marines and thrown around amongst them to define the relationship they have toward one another.

July 30, 2012 - Lieutenant Col. Michael Murchison and his brother Capt. Nicholas Murchison are currently deployed to Afghanistan together. Two of four boys coming from the Murchison household, the younger Murchison, Nicholas, followed his eldest brother's footsteps to become a United States Marine. Photo by USMC Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr.
July 30, 2012 - Lieutenant Col. Michael Murchison and his brother Capt. Nicholas Murchison are currently deployed to Afghanistan together. Two of four boys coming from the Murchison household, the younger Murchison, Nicholas, followed his eldest brother's footsteps to become a United States Marine. Photo by USMC Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr.


For Lt. Col. Michael Murchison and Capt. Nicholas Murchison, this saying rings truer than ever: They are real brothers.

Separated by nearly eight years in age, the elder Murchison paved the way for the younger brother to follow in his footsteps toward the Marine Corps.

“The recruiter showed up on my doorstep on a rainy, Tuesday afternoon,” said the elder brother. “I went to go talk to him and he informed me of the officer programs and the chance to get an ROTC scholarship.”

“When he went to college I was in fifth grade,” said the younger brother. “By the time he graduated from Michigan I was in seventh grade.”

During the time Michael was going through the Reserve Officer Training Course, Nicholas would frequent many of the ceremonies.

“I kind of grew up going to all the ceremonies and getting a taste of the Marine Corps that way,” said Nicholas. “The ceremonies and the traditions behind everything and just getting to see what they did was really impressive.”

With no family history in the Marine Corps, one could ask why the Marine Corps?

“I knew you were going to ask that question,” said Michael, between laughter after being asked about their military family history. “No, honestly, none. Our Dad was drafted a couple times and managed to get several deferments during the Vietnam era.”

“Our grandparents were too old for World War II and too young for World War I,” added the big brother. “I honestly don't know if you can find anybody in the history books even remotely related to us who ever served in the military.”

A point they laugh about every time it is brought up. With no family ties to the military, two of the four boys brought up in the Murchison household raised their right hand and pledged the oath.

Growing up in Detroit, the two brothers lived under the same roof, ask them and they would say uncomfortably close at times.

“We grew up in a very tiny house in Redford,” said the youngest Murchison. “We knew there was an issue when we all started to get older and come back and we couldn't fit in the house together anymore.”

“Tiny three bedroom, one and a half bath, the half bath was in the basement that nobody wanted to go into,” said Michael.

Growing up together in such a “cozy” home garnered a certain type of behavior and connection amongst the brothers.

“To this day we can't walk past each other without flinching,” said Michael. “You're kind of waiting on somebody to step on a foot, or hit a knee or hit a kidney, just cause we were in such tight quarters growing up.”

“It was always controlled chaos though,” said Nicholas. “Mom and Dad did a good job of keeping us from going to blows.”

Their parental influence kept them away from the necks of their brothers and guided them inadvertently toward their careers in the Marine Corps.

“I've always said they're the greatest logisticians in the world,” said Michael. “They allowed all four of us to play two sports at a time usually baseball and soccer, or hockey and soccer, or basketball and football.”

“Everybody had two practices and two games a week -- times four and that's sixteen training events --and they managed to get us to every game and every practice,” added the eldest Murchison.

Their mother would keep track of all the kids using a calendar plastered on the refrigerator, with each child having their own color code.

Despite all that, at the end of the day all six members of the household gathered around the dinner table and shared a meal together.

Old habits resurface for the youngest Murchison when he sees his big brother in the dining facility.

“It takes every ounce of me not to launch a hushpuppy over at him in the chow hall when I see him sitting two tables away,” said Nicholas laughingly. “A captain throwing a hushpuppy at a Lieutenant Colonel out here probably wouldn't go well.”

Through all the years, their interactions with each other still hasn't changed. They now find themselves deployed together in Afghanistan for the first time in their nearly 30 years of military experience combined.

“It's been interesting because I have been on the East Coast the whole time,” said Michael. “He's been on the West Coast so we've been kind of on different deployment schedules,” said Michael, currently on his fourth combat deployment. “I go, he comes back, he goes, I come back.”

The opportunity arose for the elder Murchison to fill his current position as the executive officer for Retrograde and Redeployment in support of Reset and Reconstitution Operations Group, sending both brothers to Helmand Province side-by-side.

“It's been fun,” said Michael about being deployed together. “We've been to a couple of meetings where it takes folks a while to realize where related. It's does frustrate me a little bit when Mom sends care packages with stuff in it for him.”

“It goes both ways though, I got the Tigers ball for you, and the cup,” added Nicholas as the two laughed.

The way the brothers interact is a direct influence of their early life, growing up in such a tight household created a tight bond.

Both brothers are deployed for a year and return home at the beginning of next year. Until then, they better keep their head on a swivel, they never know which one of them will be waiting to pounce and deliver a gentle punch fueled by the love only two brothers could share.

By USMC Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr.
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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