Staff Sgts. Andrew and Tim Payne, the youngest of four boys from Buffalo, N.Y., have always been close, and a horrible circumstance brought them even closer.
"It was a normal 4th of July weekend for me. I was about to head over to my dad's house for the holiday when he called me," said Andrew, infantryman, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). "My dad said Tim stepped on an IED, lost both his legs, but was alive in a medical facility getting treatment."
Andrew said for the next week his thought process was shot and in disarray.
"I really could not focus on anything," said Andrew. "My older brother, who I looked up to, was hurt and there was nothing I could do until he got stateside."
Once Tim was transported to the United States, Andrew rushed to his side.
"My wife and I were one of the first to see my brother at Walter Reed when he arrived," said Andrew. "While he was laying there sleeping, I stood in disbelief of what happened to my big brother."
As Tim slept, Andrew said he would whisper in Tim's ear that he was safe and loved.
"I have been [there for] my brother my whole life," said Andrew. "There was no way I was going to leave him because he would do the same for me."
Tim, worn out and exhausted, woke up from a heavy sedation after three weeks of being in the hospital.
"It was like he was my angel standing there," said Tim. "He was the first person I saw and I was glad to see him."
Through high school, the two were almost inseparable until Tim decided to join the Army.
"Joining the Army was the best thing for me," said Tim. "It gave me a chance to travel and see the world."
Andrew, the younger of the two, said he always admired Tim's dedication to serve his country.
"I can honestly credit my brother for my decision to join the Army," said Andrew. "He believed that I could do great things in the Army and he was right."
Smiling, Andrew added he was his brother's first recruit.
Throughout their Army careers, their individual jobs took them different places; never knowing Tim's injury would bring them together again.
Tim has since been reassigned from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, to the Warrior Transition Team in Bethesda, Md and continues to make a strong recovery from his extensive injuries with Andrew by his side every step of the way.