By Command Sgt. Maj. Mickey Rutledge, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat TeamSeptember 25, 2012
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan - - Spc. Brianda Almazan and her big brother, Spc. Jayro Almazan, reunited recently in a pretty unlikely place -- here.
Brianda, 21, is a parachute rigger deployed with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade Support Battalion. Jayro, two years her senior, is a forward observer with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry, part of the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade. When not deployed, Brianda is based at Aviano, Italy and Jayro can be found at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Both Almazans deployed to Afghanistan with their respective units in July. The pair got together when Brianda was given permission to travel from Command Outpost Maqur to see her brother at Forward Operating Base Sharana.
The two had not seen each other in more than a year. The last time was when both took leave to see their family in Fort Worth, Texas.
Brianda said the timing of her latest visit was perfect. Jayro celebrated his 23rd birthday while she was with him.
"It was a neat experience to be able to spend his birthday together, while we are both deployed," she said. "We caught up on a lot we had missed. We were able to talk about our experiences here in Afghanistan and the missions we have been on, our perspectives and what our jobs are like while we are here. I got to meet his platoon and his forward observer team. They were great! I had an awesome time, and am very grateful I got this awesome opportunity to reunite with my older brother while deployed in Afghanistan."
Although she and Jayro are the only members of their family to pursue military careers, Brianda said she always wanted to join.
"For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to serve in the military and get deployed to serve my country," Brianda said.
She enlisted first, at age 17, but while she finished high school Jayro shipped out for basic training in May 2009, two months ahead of her. Just over three years later both Almazans are specialists who expect to attend the sergeant promotion board in the near future.
After a tour at Fort Benning, Ga., Brianda re-enlisted for Europe and soon deployed. While her full-time unit is HHC 173rd, she is currently attached to the brigade's 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry as a Female Engagement Team member. She said she plans to re-enlist as soon as she is able, and wants to continue to serve in Italy.
While Jayro has spent his entire Army career with the 82nd in North Carolina and Afghanistan, he plans to re-enlist for a new specialty as a cryptologic linguist. He already took the exam and scored very well.
Brianda said their mother worries about them a lot because they are both deployed, but that she also says she knows they are well taken care of, and she is very proud of their service and how much they have learned and grown.