SOUTHWEST ASIA -- When most people think of military reunions, they may think of servicemembers returning home from an extended deployment to reunite with their loved ones.
That is not the case for this brother and sister duo. Their scenario is quite the opposite. For these two siblings, who haven't seen each other in almost a year and a half, the reunion was an emotional one -- and they met while deployed.
Senior Airman Joseph McGarrity and his sister Airman 1st Class Brittney McGarrity haven't seen each other since Brittney left for basic military training in March 2011.
"It was a complete surprise when I saw her on the flightline after my plane landed," said Joseph, a quality control manager and third-country national supervisor with the 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron. "We knew we were being deployed to the same location, but neither of us knew we would see each other so quickly."
Joseph took leave from Ramstein Air Base, Germany and returned home to Philadelphia, Pa., in the spring of 2011 to get married. Shortly after the wedding, Brittney left for basic training, technical school and then on to her permanent duty station assignment at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. It has been difficult for them to come together due to their assignments on different continents.
Growing up, the two were inseparable and share a unique trait most siblings can't claim.
"We are actually considered 'Irish twins' because he was born June 2 and I was born June 1 the following year -- less than a year apart," said Brittney, a loadmaster with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. "As kids we did everything together and actually had never been apart for this long until I joined the military."
This is the first deployment for both siblings, which can take a toll on the parents, who are seeing both children deploy at once.
"Initially it was tough on our families, but they began to relax and feel more at ease when they realized we'd be deploying together at the same base," said Joseph. "Knowing we'd be able to watch out for each other gave them a sense of comfort."
Since the McGarritys' are both scheduled to redeploy within the next few months, both are looking to "catch up" and spend as much time together as possible before they return home.
After all, it may take a while before they see each other again.