The military has uprooted them and flung them on different paths across the globe, but two brothers who serve in different branches will link up to celebrate their move to their next rank together.
The Elsik brothers -- Flint, a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and Michael, a sergeant in the Air Force stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico -- will promote to the pay grade of E6. To commemorate their achievements, Flint Elsik is driving to his brother's Air Force base in New Mexico to have a joint ceremony Friday.
The promotion has been a long, frustrating wait for Flint Elsik, who worked hard and maintained a positive attitude through his years a sergeant. He was thrilled to see he'd obtained enough points to move on to his promotion at the same time as his older brother.
"We're both really excited about it," said Flint Elsik, who earned a Ranger tab. "The promotion hasn't happened until now. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. Maybe the reason I didn't get promoted was because I was supposed to wait for my brother."
The brothers, who are 14 months apart in age, have always been competitive, but supportive. They grew up in a rural town in Texas, where their parents impressed upon them the importance of family.
And even though the brothers are stationed in different time zones, stretched between their own demanding careers and families, they still make time to talk on the phone regularly.
"The way we were raised, family was a very important thing to us," Flint Elsik said. "Regardless of how well you get along, at the end of the day, you still have family. Family looks out for one another."
The brothers spent most days playing together outside, deer hunting or shooting with the 4-H rifle club.
Flint Elsik, the first to join the military, said his path to enlist came after a divine intervention.
He'd been working two jobs, neither of which were fulfilling, and had offers to pursue careers at a machine shop and an oil company. But one day a sharp Army recruiter in his dress uniform walked into the feed store where Flint Elsik was working and asked to talk to him.
It had been years since Flint Elsik had talked to a recruiter, but he felt like a higher power had sent this one to him. He signed up for the Army shortly after.
His Army assignments began at Fort Bragg 12 years ago, then to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Vincenzo, Italy, with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and humanitarian missions to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He's assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Michael Elsik was impressed with his brother's success and decided to explore the military, as well. He once considered a career in the Marine Corps, but the Air Force was a better fit.
Michael Elsik has been a member of an air crew unit for the past 10 years.
"I love being part of the greater good," Michael Elsik said. "It just gave me a sense of belonging."
The brothers said they have a mutual respect for each other's service.
Their jobs intertwined once before.
About five years ago, Michael Elsik was on a flight crew that was part of a large formation training exercise that included paratroopers from Fort Bragg. The C-17 aircraft flew from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, to pick up the paratroopers for a jump into South Carolina.
Michael and Flint weren't on the same aircraft, but met up on the ground. They snapped a picture together under the wing of an aircraft, in different uniforms with big smiles.
"I've always been proud of my brother," Michael Elsik said. "He was part of the reason I joined the Air Force. I just hope that we continue to do well so we can continue to represent our respective branches positively and make our communities proud."