Brothers reunite in Iraq
January 19, 2010
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two brothers were able to spend a day together after their lives intersected in Iraq from two different parts of the world.
First Lt. Ryan Zeller, an infantry officer, marched toward the gates of Al Faw Palace when he heard his name yelled across the parking lot. Ryan turned around to see his brother, Sgt. Kyle Zeller, an infantry team leader, walking toward him. After 18 months of separation, they embraced and immediately began catching up.
Since the brothers have joined the Army, there have only been four occasions where they have seen each other.
In 2005, Kyle shipped to Fort Benning, Ga., for basic combat training as a private.
"I am very proud of Kyle," Ryan said about his brother enlisting. "He has worked hard and accomplished many things."
About a year after Kyle enlisted, Ryan shipped to Fort Benning, Ga., for his basic combat training, but his path took a different route after graduating. He attended Officer Candidate School on Fort Benning and was commissioned into the Army as an infantry officer.
While discussing the different paths they chose, Kyle gave some advice to his older brother from the perspective of a noncommissioned officer.
"Just listen to your NCOs," Kyle advised. "You may outrank them, but most of them have been in longer than you and know what they are saying."
The first time the brothers saw each other after joining the Army was when Ryan presented Kyle with a silver dollar.
It is tradition in the Army for newly commissioned second lieutenants to present a silver dollar to the first enlisted Soldier who salutes them. The coin symbolizes receipt of respect of their new rank and position.
"I wanted to give my silver dollar to my brother," Ryan said. "So after I was commissioned, I went to my brother, told him I wanted him to have this coin, and he saluted me."
With both brothers in Iraq, their units coordinated a visit for them at Victory Base Complex Jan. 6. During their visit, they toured Al Faw Palace, one of the many palaces once belonging to Saddam Hussein.
"It's amazing how the Army will work to bring two brothers together," said the 27-year-old Ryan, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
The brothers saw the ballroom, the roof, and even inside the rotunda during their tour of the palace.
While on the rooftop, they each raised a flag. After departing, the two brothers spent some quality time together.
"I never thought it would happen," said 26-year-old, Kyle, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "It was difficult to contact each other but it finally got worked out."
Both brothers said they hope to have many more memories and moments together while pursuing their careers in the Army. They then hugged each other and said their farewells; to two different parts of the world, again.