At first glance, the sight of the two U.S. Army infantry staff
sergeants discussing upcoming operations around a map seems like
just another common occurrence here. With a closer look, however, a
person could think their vision is playing tricks on them.
“This isn't the first time this has happened,” explained Staff Sgt.
Mark Szyman, a squad leader in Heavy Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd
Cavalry Regiment. “Our first sergeant used to think we were messing
with him by wearing the same name tapes.”
September 10, 2016 - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Szyman (left), and his brother Staff
Sgt. Nicholas Szyman in front of the Train, Advise and Assist
Command-East headquarters in eastern Afghanistan. The
brothers are currently deployed together with the 3rd Cavalry
Regiment. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Grace Geiger)
Across from him, nodding his head in agreement, sits
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Szyman, also a squad leader in Heavy
Troop. The two are brothers, and natives of San Antonio,
Texas, but currently they find themselves on a small
tactical base in eastern Afghanistan.
isn't the first time we've found ourselves overseas
together,” said Nicholas. “We were stationed together in
Hawaii, and deployed together to Iraq from 2007-2009.”
For the brothers, the military is a family profession.
Their younger brother, Travis Szyman, was also in Heavy
Troop with them before getting out of the Army, said
Nicholas, and their father also served in the military.
“Our parents are supportive of us,” said Mark. “I think
it's better for my mom to know that we are together and can
look out for one another.”
through their 9 month deployment, the brothers agree being
together is a great experience. They also agree this
deployment is different than their deployment to Iraq. Their
troop is supporting Train, Advise and Assist Command-East
and the advising mission here.
Mark, the oldest, is a
squad leader in the ground defense zone platoon. His mission
consists of providing force protection for the area
immediately surrounding the base.
Nicholas is a
guardian angel team leader. As a guardian angel, he
facilitates the train, advise and assist mission by
providing security for the advisor teams when they conduct
engagements with their Afghan counterparts.
I have the better mission,” said Nicholas, half-jokingly.
“But, he [Mark] does get to ride around in helicopters a lot
more than I do.”
Capt. Russell Huebner, former Heavy
Troop commander, enjoyed the added sense of family spirit
having siblings in his troop.
“The good thing about
having brothers in the unit is they bring others in to the
family bond they have,” said Huebner. “They really raise the
“The best thing about being
together during our deployment is being able to vent to my
brother when I can't talk to anyone else,” said Nicholas.
“He knows and understands what's going on here already.”
“We have gone through literally everything together,”
When they aren't in Afghanistan, the
brothers are stationed together at Fort Hood, Texas. They
admit they don't spend as much time together back home
because of their busy schedules. Nicholas is married to
Rachel Syzman, and they have two children, Trinity and
Liberty. Mark is married to Mary Kate Szyman, and the couple
lives near Austin, Texas.
This deployment is also a
bitter-sweet time for the brothers, as Mark plans to leave
the Army after the deployment. But, for now, they are
enjoying every moment together.
By U.S. Army Capt. Grace Geiger
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