Brothers in arms: siblings serve side by side as Soldiers
Matt, left, and Nick Panepinto, both captains in the Army, relax together after completing the eight annual Hoorah Race on Fort McPherson. The brothers ran together in the 10km race, and will soon add deployment to their list of shared experiences, with Nick headed to Iraq for the first time later this year. Matt has completed three previous tours to the Middle East.

When asking for Capt. Panepinto, youAca,!a,,cd better state which one.

While all Soldiers are brothers-in-arms, for Matt and Nick Panepinto, that brotherhood is also created by blood.

Aca,!A"Having a brother in the military is kind of rare,Aca,!A? said younger brother Nick. Aca,!A"It brings pride to the Family.Aca,!A?

The Panepinto family, which radiates that pride, had a strong hand in creating the conditions that lead to the brothersAca,!a,,c service.

Aca,!A"Our father raised us to be close,Aca,!A? Matt said, speaking of himself, Nick and sister Jennifer. Aca,!A"He taught us that family was the only thing to take care of you later on down the road.Aca,!A?

Despite the nearly three-year difference in age between the brothers, growing up in such an environment caused them to be extremely close, Nick said. Both spoke of their times growing up, playing outside and strengthening their bonds as brothers.
Aca,!A"Our father was a no no-nsense guy who raised us to be close,Aca,!A? Nick said.

While many older brothers are often turned off by the tag-along aspects of younger siblings, for Matt it was nothing unusual. In fact, having his brother follow in his footsteps was something he often encouraged Nick to do.

An example of such encouragement would lead to Nick following his brother into the Army as a commissioned officer.

In 2000, Matt joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps and his experiences with the program prompted his brother to follow suit in 2001.

Aca,!A"When he got back from airborne school, he said it was a good experience,Aca,!A? Nick said of one of the main conversations prompting him to follow MattAca,!a,,cs lead.

Although being siblings in the Army has created another shared experience, it hasnAca,!a,,ct always given them the opportunity to be close at least in terms of proximity. Service to their country has sent each of them to separate areas of operations: Nick ended up in Seoul, Korea, where he last served as executive officer for the 176th Financial Management Company, while Matt ended up pulling three tours of duty in the Middle East, twice in Iraq and once in Kuwait.

Still, thanks to technology, the two were able to keep in contact with one another.
Aca,!A"With him being in Korea, it was easy to keep in touch,Aca,!A? Matt said of his deployments. Aca,!A"We could talk through the DSN (Defense Switched Network) line with a Korean operator.Aca,!A?

The brothers also exchanged e-mail messages and care packages when Matt was deployed.

The exchanges are a practice the two plan to continue as Nick once again follows his brotherAca,!a,,cs footsteps by deploying to Iraq and preparing for work as a member of a military training team.

Though Nick is once again following Matt, in this instance, Matt is the one watching his younger brotherAca,!a,,cs back.

Aca,!A"He certainly has experience when it comes to Iraq. He provided tons of info for me,Aca,!A? Nick said.

Besides tactical advice, such as being aware of corruption in the Iraqi army and police corps and maintaining a level of vigilance, Matt said he also is preparing his brother with ways to help reduce the stress of being pulled away from his Family: wife, Seung Ja, and daughters, Joon Hee, 10, and Soo Bin, 7.

Aca,!A"In order to do well you need to find a routine,Aca,!A? said Matt, headquarters company commander, 13th Combat Sustainment Support battalion. Aca,!A"Stay in shape to deal with stress, and if you have the chance to do any sports, take advantage.Aca,!A?

Matt also plans to help his brother deal with the separation by keeping in touch via e-mail messages, phone calls and care packages. Likewise, he will be there for NickAca,!a,,cs wife.
Their younger sister will also be moving in with his wife, Nick said.

Being there for each other is just another example of the strong union instilled in the brothers from their childhood.

Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre very close. A family bond is instilled in us,Aca,!A? Nick said. Aca,!A"The care is there.Aca,!A?
So is pride.

Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm always proud of him,Aca,!A? Matt said, recounting seeing Nick pin on his Ranger tab. Aca,!A"HeAca,!a,,cs good for the military and the militaryAca,!a,,cs good for him.Aca,!A?

Like so many of their own experiences, the feeling is shared amongst the brothers.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm proud of my brother, proud to be in the military and proud to serve my country,Aca,!A? Nick said.

Page last updated Fri June 26th, 2009 at 10:07