BAGHDAD - During a deployment, Soldiers have a battle buddy who acts as a brother or sister of sorts; a fellow Soldier who is expected to do anything to protect their comrade; someone who is there to help their friend endure hardships.
For Staff Sgts. Brian and Travers Brake, "battle buddy" takes on a different meaning altogether. Besides being fellow cavalry scout platoon sergeants in 1st of the 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, they are actual brothers.
They have been separated for most of their military career, but the 1/150 ARS has provided them a way to reunite.
"We're very different, but the military has always been one common thread for us," said Travers.
When Troop C arrived, many Soldiers were pulled in several different directions, and the Brake brothers simultaneously became the highest-ranking noncommissioned officers within their respective platoons. Within two weeks of each other, they were each assigned to a platoon sergeant position.
Many in the Brake family have served in the military: dad, two uncles, both grandfathers, and great uncles, said Brian.
"We've been able to trace our history back to the French and Indian wars," said Travers. The brothers confirmed the Brake lineage has fought in every major U.S. conflict except Vietnam.
The Brake brothers are carrying on that ancestral legacy, and the military continues to remain prevalent in their lives as they march through a second deployment; this time, together.
Although the Brakes were always close, their first deployment in 2004 helped them realize what was most important to them, said Travers.
"I had several close calls and started to appreciate the people in my life more," said Travers.
In 2004, they were in the same squadron but, according to Travers, it was difficult for them to see each other because they moved around so much.
"Here, we see each other once a day, but we're on opposite ends of the pod," said Travers; "just like back home."
Back home for Travers is Elkins, W.Va., while Brian resides in Danville, W.Va.; opposite sides of the state. Although the brothers must drive two hours to see each other there, they still manage to see each other at least once a month, and they phone often, said Travers.
The brothers have very different interests.
"He likes football, I prefer rugby," Travers said.
Travers considers himself more of a wilderness type - fond of fishing, camping and wildlife - while Brian likes to stay closer to home with his activities, which include racing and mechanics.
Despite their differences, though, they share a passion in helping improve their communities. Travers participates in a therapeutic camping program for troubled and at-risk teens with trips that can sometimes last as long as 30 days. Brian volunteers as a firefighter and coaches Little League football and youth soccer.
The brothers also like competing with each other.
They recently competed in a "Top Gun" competition in which M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle crews compete for the title of best team in the squadron. Travers' team earned the honor, besting 16 other Bradley crews, including Brian's team.
No bitterness about it, though, said Travers.
"We are always bragging about our platoons to each other," said Travers. "We don't get jealous of each other when one really gets a leg up. We're happy for each other."
The Brake brothers work through problems together, bouncing ideas off of each other to find solutions for their platoons, said Travers. It helps that they can relate to each other.
"We grew up together so we know how each other is going to react to situations," said Brian. "The Army teaches you teamwork, but when you grow up with someone, it's on a whole different level."
The brothers are in the homestretch of their deployment and are looking forward to spending time with their families upon their return, said Travers. No matter where they are, they will continue to support each other.
Battle buddies to the end.