AL ASAD, Iraq -- Being far from home can cause some Marines to form bonds that make them like brothers, but for two Marines here, they already know the feeling.
Joining the Marine Corps four years apart, Sgt. Benjamin E. Chad, combat engineer, Bridge Company A, and Cpl. Nicholas D. Chad, CH53 crew chief and mechanic, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, hadn't seen each other for almost nine months before having a fortunate meeting here Aug. 26.
"I knew that my younger brother was at Al Asad," said 26-year-old Benjamin. "When I found out that I'd be there for a few days I e-mailed my mom and she emailed Nick to let him know."
"When I found out that my brother was coming (to Al Asad), I immediately started asking around to find out what day he would arrive," added 22-year-old Nicholas, who has been aboard Al Asad for close to a month. "My supervisor gave me the day off so I could go see him."
Since they were kids, they played war and pretended to be in the military. Now, they're both doing it for real in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
"My grandpa on my mom's side was in the Army and my grandpa on my dad's side was in the Marine Corps," said Benjamin, "so being in the military is kind of a family tradition."
"We were in the Boy Scouts together and a Marine visited us once," said Nicholas. "Ever since then, I was never interested in any other branch of service."
Benjamin was the first to join the Corps as a reservist; enlisting immediately following high school. This is his second time in Iraq after serving in OIF I.
"I'll be here for seven months," said Benjamin, "My wife has been really supportive during both of my deployments. I'm really lucky to have her."
Benjamin and Nicholas grew up in Saginaw, Mich., where they both attended Nouvel Catholic Central High School.
"The whole family lives (in Michigan)," said Benjamin, "There are a total of five brothers and three sisters (amongst the siblings)."
"My little brother Luke is in the Army," said Nicholas. "With three of us in the military our parents are worried, but they're proud of us."
Like most brothers, the Chad duo tends to joke around and give each other a hard time.
While looking down at his little brother, Benjamin joked, "We're a lot alike, with the obvious height difference."
"Ben always calls me a 'long-haired air-winger'," claimed Nicholas, "but being a 'weekend warrior' he has no room to talk."
Although they hassle one other, it is clear to anyone observing the brothers together how much they really care for each other.
"We do get along," confessed Nicholas. "We're glad we got to see each other while we are stationed here."