News: Marine Brothers share quality family time in Afghanistan
Story by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan – One Marine never expected his reunion with his brother would take place moments before an operation over Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Captain Dustin Kerlin, pilot, Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161, recently enjoyed flying with his brother while the two are deployed.
Dustin savored the rare moment when his brother, Lt. Col. Matthew Kerlin, deputy commander, Embedded Training Team, 777 Squadron, arrived on Camp Bastion before the operation. Family members do not often deploy together, and Dustin appreciated the opportunity.
“Getting to meet up with my brother in Afghanistan was the highlight of my career,” said Dustin. “It was great to get to see him.”
The brothers, from Albion, Ind., reunited on the flightline on Camp Bastion. It was a brief meeting before a joint operation with the two units.
“I am thankful anytime I get to see a member of the family,” said Matthew. “Even if it is for only 20 minutes on a flightline in Afghanistan.”
The operation involved transporting servicemembers into Helmand province.
The brothers do not see each other often. Their family is scattered across the United States making it difficult to meet.
“It was great to see him,” said Dustin. “My brother has always been a mentor personally and professionally for me.”
Like many families, the brothers picked up right where they left off. Even with years between the last time they saw each other, it was easy to be themselves with one another.
The rest of the Kerlin family was shocked but pleased to hear the brothers got to work together.
“Being dispersed across the U.S. makes it even better when we have a chance to get together,” said Matthew.
While the chance to work together surprised the two Marine pilots, the fact that they both chose to be pilots did not surprise anyone.
Their father had his private pilot’s license. He took them flying when they were children. This sparked their love for flying at a young age.
“As long as I can remember, he would take us up in his plane,” said Dustin. “We would fly low by the house, do tricks like stalls and go to air shows.”
For the brothers, the experiences shaped their lives.
“He is the reason I am a Marine pilot, and it’s also his fault I am a helicopter pilot,” said Matthew. “Flying is his passion, and his knowledge of military aircraft is incredible.”
When Matthew was a young teen, he went to a small airport with an old Bell-47, a two-bladed, light helicopter. Matthew paid $100 and experienced his first helicopter flight.
Whether it was Matthew taking rides in helicopters or taking Dustin flying by their house, the two Marines were hooked.
Now many years later and thousands of miles away from their hometown, the brothers got an early holiday gift. For one operation they flew together, the Afghanistan skyline temporarily replacing the Indiana landscape of their childhood.