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
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
With no family history in the Marine
Corps, one could ask why the Marine Corps?
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
“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
“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.”
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
“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
Their parental influence kept them away from
the necks of their brothers and guided them inadvertently
toward their careers in the Marine Corps.
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.”
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.
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.”
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
“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.
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.
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