CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – After being separated for more than a year and a half, two brothers were reunited while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Donald Rucker, a maintenance administration clerk with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466, Marine Aircraft Group - Afghanistan, Regional Command Southwest, and his brother, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ian Smith, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regional Command Southwest, reconnected with one another here March 11.
“It’s definitely cool having a brother in the military,” said Smith, a 20-year-old native of Edmond, Okla. “Having shared pretty much everything growing up: sports, food, parents, the Marine Corps, it’s just one more thing.”
The two were not always so close. Rucker was adopted at age 15 and moved in with Smith’s family. The brothers really got to know each other as teens and have been great friends ever since.
“I found myself going in the wrong direction and wanted guidance and discipline in my life,” said Rucker, a 21-year-old native of Edmond.
“I can definitely see the difference in him,” Smith said. “He’s disciplined, patient and all-around a great Marine. Our parents couldn’t be prouder of our decision to be Marines, and we couldn’t be happier.”
Though the brothers both wrestled in high school, Smith also played football and Rucker practiced martial arts in his spare time. The two grew up in a rural Oklahoma town where the ideals of love and service to country were instilled at a young age. Both joined the Marines straight out of high school.
“I think we both knew we were joining the military at some point after high school,” said Smith, regarding his decision to serve despite football scholarships to Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma State University. “My father and grandfather were Marines, and I wanted to be the third-generation Marine in my family. Tradition is very important to the both of us, which made the decision of what branch we were going to join an easy one.”
Reuniting in Afghanistan has been bittersweet; Smith is four days away from completing his first tour while Rucker just started his.
“He’s given me a lot of tips,” Rucker said of his brother. “It was great seeing each other again. I’m looking forward to my deployment, and I couldn’t be happier.”