Brothers Unbreakable Bond In Army
by U.S. Army National Guard Spc. Jacob Oliver
April 28, 2023
“Me and my brother have a pretty strong
relationship, stronger than what most siblings have.”
words, said by Spc. Gavin Estabrooks, speak to the unique
relationship with his brother that goes beyond a sibling bond.
Gavin, part of Headquarters Support Company, 248th Aviation
Support Battalion, 67th Troop Command, and Staff Sgt. Ethan
Estabrooks, with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter
Battalion, 67th Troop Command, serve together in the Iowa Army
April 16, 2023 - Staff Sgt. Ethan Estabrooks, left, and brother Spc. Gavin Estabrooks
enjoying time together after competing in the 2023 Iowa Army Best Warrior Competition. The Estabrooks brothers serve together as federal technicians at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Boone, Iowa, as UH-60 Black Hawk mechanics. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Jacob Oliver)
The two brothers from Slater, Iowa, have
had the opportunity to forge their own separate paths in the Army -
but their shared military service in the aviation field has produced
an unbreakable bond between them.
The Estabrooks brothers
share the same military occupational specialty: 15 Tango UH-60 Black
Hawk mechanics. They work together at the Army Aviation Support
Facility in Boone, Iowa, as federal technicians.
father, Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Estabrooks, also serves in the Iowa
National Guard and built a career in aviation. Their grandfather
used to build airfields in Thailand during the pre-Vietnam era. So,
aviation is a bit of a family legacy.
Ethan is the older
brother. He enlisted in July 2013. During a 2016 interview, Ethan
said that as a child, it wasn’t uncommon for him to throw on some
boots and sport a small Army uniform which had an ‘Estabrooks’ name
tape on it.
“The Army has always interested me,” Ethan said.
“One day, before graduating from high school, Dad comes in the house
and asks me how I’m going to pay for college. Two or three days
later, he was able to convince me that the National Guard was the
way to go.”
After that moment for Ethan, the rest was
history. After graduating high school in 2014, Ethan shipped off to
Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic combat training. After
basic, Ethan left for Fort Eustis, Virginia, to complete his 16-week
advanced individual training to become a Black Hawk mechanic.
Gavin, however, was reluctant about joining the Guard at first.
“But then I just woke up one day, and I said to myself, ‘You
know, it can’t be that bad,'” Gavin said.
Gavin swore in to
the Iowa National Guard in August 2020 and shipped to basic training
at Fort Jackson in April 2021, and like his brother, became a
trained Black Hawk mechanic at Fort Eustis.
Ethan has been in
the Army for almost ten years, and Gavin almost three. They served
in the same unit for a time, with Ethan appointed as Gavin’s first
line leader. Gavin changed aviation units for promotion
opportunities, but despite the change, the brothers still get to
work together from time to time on the hangar floor at AASF 1 in
The Estabrooks brothers shared another unique
experience in the Guard recently ... by competing against each other
in the 2023 Iowa Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition. The
Best Warrior Competition is an experience that few are selected to
participate in and requires a high level of endurance.
It was Ethan’s second time, and Gavin’s
first time, competing in the four-day annual event which throws
participating Soldiers into a gauntlet that tests their competencies
in areas such as combat fitness, marksmanship, land navigation and
warrior tasks and drills.
“I get my drive to participate in
Best Warrior from my work ethic and competitiveness,” Ethan said. “I
know I won’t be number one in a great deal of many things, yet I
certainly would like to try. Knowing where I fall short allows me to
grow and learn from experiences. With the Best Warrior competition,
I was an aviation MOS inside a combat arms MOS competition. Even
though I did not win the competition, I still felt pride, knowing
that there were some events that I could still keep up.”
Gavin shared his brother’s affinity for a competitive lifestyle and
passion for learning, so it was a natural choice when he decided to
“Since Gavin has joined the Army, there is more of
a competitive spirit that drives both of us to excel in our
careers," Ethan said. "With him as a 15T, I have yet another person
I can easily rely on in the aviation community."
relationship has evolved over the years ... from typical brotherly
bickering to pushing each other to reach their goals as adults.
“In the beginning we had the typical brotherly ‘love’ that all
brothers had, from fighting, making fun of each other and wanting
what each other had,” Gavin said.
They have learned to
challenge each other to their benefits, not just in the Best Warrior
Competition, but throughout their careers.
“With [Gavin] in
the Guard, we encourage each other to strive for commandant list
nominations in schools and to achieve great things in our units,”
Ethan said. “We lift each other up by supporting one another's goals
and helping each other reach them.”
Even though he has been
in the Guard for nearly a decade, Ethan said he still learns new
things about his job as a helicopter mechanic each day - including
from Gavin, who has completed maintenance jobs he hadn't had a
chance to perform yet.
When Gavin decided to follow in his
father and brother's paths into aviation, he never expected he would
work so closely with Ethan. He became his mentor in both aircraft
maintenance and leadership.
“Now we’ve become best friends
with an unbreakable bond,” Gavin said.
Growing up, Gavin
said their parents instilled discipline and professionalism in them.
Their experience in the Army helped drive those lessons home. Going
forward, the younger brother admitted to a competition to see which
of them will achieve the rank of command sergeant major first.
“It’s a heck of an experience,” Gavin said, “And I think
everyone should at least look into it and give it a shot. You get
great mentorship and leadership skills. People want to do it just to
go to college. It’s more than that. You get six years to explore and
to do stuff that no one else can really do.”
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