KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - For one pair of siblings, the mission of helping to rebuild Afghanistan for the future is a family affair, even as they are separated by distance.
Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Adam Powars, 38, a husband and father of two, is serving on a Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Kunar province, while his sister, Marine Sgt. Mary Costa, 34, a wife and mother of three, serves on a Female Engagement Team in the Helmand province.
Powars, a US Navy Reserve Electronics Technician who has served for nearly 19 years recalls the day his younger sister enlisted in the Marine Corps.
“I remember when my sister joined the Marines, her husband had been in the Corps and I think that helped her make her decision,” he said. “I advised her to join the Air Force, but I’m glad she’s found happiness in the Marines.”
Costa, whose husband was medically retired from the Marines, recalls her desire to join the Corps after the events of 9/11.
“I was always impressed by the way my husband would talk about the Marines and how dedicated they are to each other and the bond they share,” she said. “After the events of 9/11, my husband and I talked about it and we knew we had to do something. I went to the recruiter’s office the next day.”
Costa now serves as an Aviation Precision Measurement Technician, deployed from Marine Aircraft Group 16, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, in San Diego, Calif.
“Normally I have a pretty comfortable job in the Marines, we usually work on the big bases with all the usual comforts,” she said. “The FET is completely different than what I’m used to. Our mission changes all of the time, and we go out to some remote and poor places.”
Powars, who was activated from his home command of Navy Operational Support Center, Harrisburg, Pa., also finds himself in an unexpected location as a senior enlisted sailor serving on the front lines in the Kunar River Valley.
“I’ve done nuclear power and submarines most of my career and I’ve been a lot of places,” he said. “Afghanistan was not a place I really expected my Navy career to take me, but it’s something unique that I’ll look back on and tell my grandkids about.”
While serving as the PRT S-6, Powars is responsible for all things communications and information technology related. He’s also worked as security for other elements of the PRT on a number of missions and taught Microsoft PowerPoint to the Provincial Governor’s staff.
Despite their differences in location, which keeps the siblings on near opposite sides of the country, which is roughly the size of the state of Texas, one thing the two have in common is worrying about the other.
“I worry about my sister and her safety,” said Powars. “But I’m glad she’s happy with what she’s doing, and I know she has a supportive husband and three great children who miss her.”
The feelings were near identical for Costa, who expressed her own worry about her older brother’s safety where he serves.
“I’m less worried about my own safety, because I trust my training and my fellow Marines,” she said. “Even though he’s my older brother and has always been my protector, I wish he could be here by my side so I could watch his back.”
The other big thing the siblings share is their sense of accomplishment in helping the nation of Afghanistan prepare for the future, said Costa.
“I feel like I get to see the effects of my work immediately,” she said. “You can see the smiles on the children’s faces and the surprise on the women when they learn we’ve come to ask them questions and help them.”
Those efforts help gain valuable information that leaders at the provincial level can use to provide mentorship for local Afghan officials, said Powars.
“I think that the long term affect we have on the people of Afghanistan won’t come through military superiority or defeating the Taliban,” he said. “The people of Afghanistan will have to make a choice on who will lead them, and how.”
“The work the FET’s do with the women of Afghanistan, the influence that will have on the children of Afghanistan is vital, as that’s the future,” he said. “And that feeds into the work the PRT’s are doing to support the government, it’s all a team effort that is critical to the stability of the country.”
Being separated across the country and busy with their own missions has limited the amount the siblings have been able to talk, but each is gaining a vast number of stories they look forward to telling the other when they return, said Costa.
“I haven’t gotten to talk to my brother much about the differences in our provinces and missions,” she said. “But I’m very excited to be able to share stories with him when we both get back to the States.”
This work, Siblings help build Afghan future, by MSgt Christopher Marasky, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.