SOUTHWEST ASIA, –
The Air Force is often described as a family; those serving forge bonds as strong as brothers with their fellow airmen. But for Capts. Andrew and Brian Metzger, both deployed to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, the bond of brotherhood has always been there.
Andrew, 28, is a C-17 Globemaster III pilot deployed from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. and Brian, 29, is an Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules pilot deployed from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.
Aviation has always been in the Metzger family. Their dad, retired Maj. Mark Metzger flew the C-9 Nightingale and C-141 Starlifter. Both brothers were ultimately drawn to flying also. Brian first enlisted in the Air Force, as a C-130 loadmaster. Andrew followed a few years later as an Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate from Purdue University. They also have an older brother, Phil Metzger, who is a civilian Air Traffic Controller. Both brothers have flown into Phil's airspace and heard their big brother direct the airplane traffic.
"Our family dinners are usually more like a check-ride where we ask each other, 'Can your airplane do this? What if this happens? How do you do this in your airplane?'" said Andrew.
The brothers' deployments here overlap by only a few months but it's an important few months as both are getting ready for big life changes. After this deployment, Andrew will be moving to Alaska and Brian is expecting his first child, a boy, in March.
"We get to see each other at home because we aren't too far away right now, but we know it might be a while before we are together again since we both have so much going on," said Brian.
Both have deployed before, but this the first time they have been deployed to the same place at the same time. When each found out the other was deploying, they did what they could within their squadrons to be here together.
"At first I was going to another base, but then I found out we had some people coming here so I volunteered knowing Brian would be here. I wanted to deploy again for the experience, but being here with my brother really made it special," said Andrew.
The brothers have flown together privately, but have never flown an Air Force aircraft together. They hope maybe one day they can. Brian has about 1,300 flying hours, with another 1,300 hours flying as a loadmaster, but Andrew is right on his tail with 1,000 flying hours. When asked who is a better pilot, they both smile and point to each other. That's not to say they aren't competitive though; if asked which airplane is better, the two banter back and forth.
"When I flew in a C-17 for the first time, I had to admit it was pretty nice. So I texted Andrew to tell him," said Brian. Andrew saved the text message.
Ultimately the brothers agree that their airframes serve distinct but important mobility purposes.
"We go back and forth on whose airplane is better, but really they are completely different. The C-17 is a strategic airlift and the C-130 is a tactical airlift," said Andrew. "At the end of the day, we both have our roles, and it's just nice we get to do this job and be here together."