"Family Ties on Enemy Lines"
January 13, 2011
- Cousins who have not seen each other in years reunite in Afghanistan
By Pfc. Donte Gordon
TF Lifeliners, 101st Sustainment Brigade
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan December 17, 2010 - As a logistics officer assigned to the 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, Cpt. Timothy Oysti thought he knew most of the 'ins and outs' of a combat zone.
One thing he did not know, however, was that his younger cousin, Spc. Daniel Nowell, was already stationed at the same location he would be going. It was their first meeting in almost a decade, and neither knew the other was in the Army.
"Sitting here, right now, is the first time we've seen each other in eight years, since our grandfather passed," Oysti said, looking at Nowell, a convoy security specialist for 109th Quartermaster Company, 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
During the past eight years, both Oysti and Nowell have received promotions, educational gain, and even began families of their own. Yet, they remained unaware of the fact that either one of them were even in the United States Army.
Oysti said he went to Michigan to attend his grandmother's funeral prior to coming to Fort Campbell and learned from one of Nowell's younger brothers that Daniel was in the Army and preparing to deploy in a few days.
"It's exciting to know that were the only two in our family serving our country, and it's even more amazing to know that we're defending our country side by side," Nowell said.
Nowell, a Commonwealth State native, worked for his father in the plumbing business after completing high school.
The last time Nowell and Oysti were face to face, Nowell wasn't even a legal adult. Oysti was a student at Northern Michigan University, and Nowell had just graduated high school.
"I had no idea I'd join the Army. I was called to do a gig at one of the recruiting offices in town, and one of the NCO's put that 'recruiting' bug in my ear while I was working. I talked to my wife about it, and, well...here I am," Nowell said.
Oysti enlisted in the Army in 1998, and went through the Green-to-Gold program in 2000. He was commissioned an officer in 2004, and promoted to captain in 2007. "I was promoted while in flight on a UH-60 Blackhawk, above Afghanistan" Oysti said. "It was one the coolest things I've been a part of."
Nowell, currently serving overseas for the first time, said when he learned his cousin was coming to Bagram, he went searching for him.
"I was trying to find out everything possible, as well as trying to contact him before (Oysti) deployed," Nowell said. "When all else failed, there was Facebook. Ever since Timothy's been here, we've made sure to keep in contact, sending messages to each other on Facebook as much as possible," he said.
"Different people were telling me what rank they'd heard he was. Some were saying Sergeant Major, others were saying Command Sergeant Major," Nowell said. "I didn't know what to believe."
Nowell said his peers teased him about Oysti being a captain, believing he'd try to use it to his advantage.
"I'm a professional soldier," Nowell said. "I understand he's my blood, and that's what makes saluting him even more special. Heck, I just find it to be pretty dang cool."
Before digging deeper in their past, the two began to share information about their immediate families, what they've endured as soldiers, and what they plan to achieve after returning home.
"My goal is to become a Warrant Officer, something being offered to my MOS for the first time," Nowell said, excited about his opportunity to become an officer, like that of his cousin.
"When I get back to Ft. Campbell, I plan on going to Air Assault School, and hope to get a company command," Oysti said.
Aware of the opportunity to someday work under his older cousin, Nowell uses such a possibility as motivation.
"It'd be amazing to not only work under someone you understand, but also work under someone who understands you," Nowell said. "There's a great chance that what we've began in our family could one day become a legacy," Oysti said.
"It's exciting to know that were the only two in our family serving our country, and it's even more amazing to know that we're defending our country side by side," Nowell said. "It's exciting to know that were the only two in our family serving our country, and it's even more amazing to know that we're defending our country side by side," Nowell said.
"I'm always in my son's ear about serving his country," Oysti said.
"The same thing goes for my brother," Nowell said.
Being the first two members of their family to serve during Operation Enduring Freedom, Oysti and Nowell have made up their minds to dedicate their lives to their country.
"As long as my wife is happy, I'm happy. I'm going to be a soldier as long as I can," Nowell said.
"I plan on retiring from the Army. It's something I enjoy doing," Oysti said.
With the holiday season in full swing, Nowell and Oysti are aware of the duties that may prevent them from seeing each other on Christmas day.
"Between missions and personal tasks, it's hard to keep track of one another, but were going to do our best to see each other on Christmas" Oysti said.
"It's going to make that day of the year much more special than what it already is. Not a lot of soldiers get to see their families around this time of year, even in the states. This is big, and I've considered myself very blessed," Nowell said.