MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. - The bond between brothers is a
very special thing. As the oldest of three, this bond holds a very
special place in my heart.
In the military, it is also common
to hear people refer to the men and women who perform this duty of
service, brothers and sisters in arms.
To live, work and die
next to someone who maybe a couple weeks ago was a complete
stranger, but has become a brother or sister because of the oath
they took and the sacrifices they make, holds a distinctive place in
the hearts of all our armed forces members.
Their bond is a
very special thing as well.
I have the privilege of being
able to identify with both of these bonds - luckily enough, both at
the exact same time.
Just a short couple months ago my
youngest brother Logan decided to follow in his older brothers'
footsteps and join the United States Air Force. To say it was a
proud moment for everyone would be an understatement.
From left to right, Logan, Kendrick and Collin Schmidt pose for a photograph after a graduation ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio
on June 26, 2015. Logan was the most recent graduate of Air Force basic training and the final Schmidt brother to join the Air Force. (Courtesy photo
by Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)
Kendrick, the middle of us three, was the first to join.
Desperate to leave the shackles of a small town and see what
the world had to offer him, he signed his name on the dotted
line and left without so much as a second glance back.
For myself, after completing a degree in the art of
music production, I had started to work on a second degree
in the field of marketing. After a short time, I found
myself in a very familiar situation to many self-supporting
students. I was broke.
A decision had to be made.
Looking back on it, I believe I made the right one
and what that decision has offered me is almost beyond
Growing up, my brothers and I always heard
our father tell stories of his time in the U.S. Army.
Usually, they would end in a thunderous laugh and were
almost always followed by a blizzard of questions.
One of my favorites ended with a much younger version of my
dad with his finger frozen to the trigger of his weapon.
Now that I think of it, most of the many stories I heard
during dinner table conversations and during family
get-togethers were probably just various versions of this
Regardless, these stories left an
impression on all of us. They were used as life lessons,
they were used to cheer us up, they were used to make our
family bond stronger and they were used to propel our dreams
Just a short couple of weeks ago,
during a graduation ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio,
Texas, I had the opportunity of a lifetime to see my
youngest brother, Logan, graduate as I stood alongside my
The look on my mother and father's
faces was one of sheer joy. It was a moment I will never
I will also never forget Kendrick and I
having to tell our mother to keep her bawling to a minimum
as we tried to hold our salutes during the national anthem.
It definitely didn't work, but she did the best she could.
Yes, it was a proud day for all of us.
our family, the Air Force has become more than just a name
of an organization that we are team members of; it's become
a part of the very framework that holds us together. It's
become a legacy.
To say that I am grateful for that
is not enough.
Looking toward the future, I do not
know what it holds but I do know one thing for sure. I am
now part of a team of men and women that make it bright.
I am part of a family that I can lean on who fights for
not only me, but for everyone who lives under our nation's
I am now truly a brother in arms.
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt
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