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Enduring Freedom Brings Brothers Together

By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Lindsey, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Nov. 2, 2004 – The first presidential election in Afghanistan has united more than a country; it has also brought together two brothers who serve in the U.S. military from opposite sides of the globe.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force 1st Lt. Matt Robins (left), an A-10 pilot with the 455th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, poses with his brother, Army Capt Steven Robins, a member of 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry regiment, deployed from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, before taking off on a flight over Afghanistan. Photo by 2nd Lt. Michael Sheley, USAF
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Air Force 1st Lt. Matt Robins, an A-10 pilot with the 81st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, caught up on the family news of his brother, Army Capt. Steven Robins, a member of 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, deployed from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

The brothers from Marshall, Texas, support Operation Enduring Freedom from different perspectives -- the captain from the ground and the lieutenant from the air.

"I couldn't imagine staffing patrols and leading troops like he does," said Lieutenant Robins, the younger of the two at 24.

"And I think he has the coolest job, flying a jet and getting to see the country from the air," the 26-year-old captain said.

They are the first two in their family to serve in the military, but have always had the desire to be a soldier and to fly.

"My job here is very rewarding," Captain Robins said. "I'm always around (soldiers), and we get to go on some interesting missions."

Recently, the infantry officer and his battalion helped ensure the security of polling places in Paktika province during the presidential election, which was held on Oct. 9. "The turnout wasn't expected to be huge, but thousands turned up," he said.

The captain's battalion also helps train and outfit local Afghan police forces. "At one time, the Taliban had a stronghold in the area, but now we're seeing villagers turning them in," he said.

Lieutenant Robins provides close-air support in Afghanistan, which sometimes requires A-10 pilots to defend U.S. ground troops by firing on or bombing attacking forces. The lieutenant hasn't had to provide cover for his brother's troops or employ munitions to date.

However, Captain Robins has witnessed local Afghan leaders cheering on U.S. military fighter jets, including A-10 Thunderbolts, and attack helicopters providing "show of presence" flyovers. Often the roar of an A-10 coming in overhead serves as enough of a deterrent against insurgent forces, said the captain.

"For me, flying here has been great -- being in a close-air-support mission where I'm able to do my job and see the effects without having to kill anybody," said Lieutenant Robins.

The captain is scheduled to continue developing plans and leading soldiers in Afghanistan through May, and the lieutenant is to provide close-air support to ground troops through January. Both brothers said they look forward to a more peaceful Afghanistan and the end of organized terrorism.

"Our parents are proud about what we do," said the A-10 pilot, "but are concerned at times about the fact that we're serving in a combat zone together."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Jennifer Lindsey is assigned to 455th Expeditionary Operations Group Public Affairs. Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.)

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