Deployed brother, sister in arms reunite at Southwest Asia base

  • Published
  • By Capt. Cathleen Snow
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
She's blonde. He's brunette. She wears a tan flight suit. He wears a green camouflaged air battle uniform. She's an officer. He's enlisted. Despite these differences, they both have the same exact shade of blue-gray eyes.

They're brother and sister and they are both deployed to the same undisclosed base in Southwest Asia.

Senior Airman Timothy Thulin, 380th Expeditionary Contracting Squadron is 1st Lt. Barbara Sartin's, 963rd Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron, little brother.

"We see more of each other now than we have in the last six years," said Airman Thulin who is a contracting specialist deployed from the 1st Special Operations Contracting Squadron out of Hurlburt Field, Fla.

His sister Lieutenant Sartin is a navigator on the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control systems aircraft and is deployed from the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron out of Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

Although they are deployed from different parts of the country, they were close growing up as the only two siblings in their family. They spent much of their youth traveling together as a family from base to base around Europe while their dad was serving in the Air Force.

"Barb was a great older sister growing up," said Airman Thulin, 25, who joined the Air Force then convinced his sister whose 3 ½ years his elder, into joining.

Airman Thulin said he wanted to follow his dad's footsteps - a 22-year master sergeant who eventually settled the family in his hometown of Leslie, Michigan after retirement. Before that, they grew up at Mather Air Force Base, Calif.; McGuire AFB, N.J.; Sembach AFB, Germany; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

"Luck," is how they came to be here together again. "I was tasked back in October for a six-month rotation starting in May. I found out a few months before I left that my sister would be deployed here as well," said Airman Thulin.

Even though they don't see each other that often due to their schedules, they get to share some quality time and some meals together periodically. Both say it is nice having family here because it make things easier when you miss home.

Being deployed overseas with a family member is uncommon. "A lot of people are quite astounded that we got deployed to the same location," said Lieutenant Sartin. "He (Airman Thulin) has gotten to meet a lot of the people I work with and the comment is always, 'Is that really your brother.'"

But identical smiles and an unmistakable resemblance are dead giveaways of their relationship.

Throughout their lives the sister, brother duo have done a lot together, especially now that they are deployed within the same wing. But there is one thing they still have not done - exchange salutes.

"The opportunity has not come up yet," said Airman Thulin.

Airman Thulin said he's hoping to get commissioned in the near future, until then, while he's deployed with his officer older sister, he may get the opportunity to render her a salute after all.

The 380th AEW is home to the KC-10 Extender, U-2 Dragon Lady, E-3 Sentry and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. The wing is comprised of four groups and 12 squadrons and the wing's deployed mission includes air refueling, air battle management, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. The 380th AEW supports operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.