CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait –
English journalist G.K. Charleston once wrote “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
For the Stephens brothers, Staff Sergeants Robert W. Stephens and Raymond E. Stephens, currently deployed with the 77th Sustainment Brigade, U.S. Army Reserve, a legacy of military service has always been a factor.
“My grandfather was a retired major in the Army," Raymond said. “We both always really looked up to him. So, part of the reason we wanted to join was to follow in his footsteps.”
On Oct. 30, 2008, Robert and his younger brother Raymond joined the U.S. Army Reserve. The brothers left for basic training and advanced individual training together shortly after enlisting as ammunition specialists.
“Even in basic training being together helped,” said Robert. “At one point in basic, my rucksack broke in the middle of a road march. There my brother was to help me stay focused, get my gear situated and keep moving forward.”
After training they continued to serve in different units. They remain close as career progression became a healthy competition for the brothers.
While this is the Stephens brother's second deployment, this is their first deployment together. Raymond deployed to Iraq in 2015 with a detachment of the 77th Sustainment Brigade and Robert deployed with the 978th Quartermaster Company to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, in 2017.
Knowing his older brother was looking for another deployment, Raymond began asking for Robert to be transferred to the 77th prior to this deployment.
“Our mom wasn’t thrilled about the idea, which is understandable,” Robert said. “But I think she also understands that we wanted share this experience and be deployed together for a change.”
Working together is not a new concept for the brothers, who are both New York State corrections officers at the same facility in their civilian careers. Although the brothers work different shifts, they attempt to make time each workweek to see each other.
Robert completed the corrections officer academy in 2012. He won the agility award by finishing the course in 1 minute and 15 seconds. In 2015, when Raymond was entering the academy, he told Robert that he would win the award also and beat Robert’s time. Raymond won the agility award by finishing the course in 1 minute and 12 Seconds.
“I was proud that he won the award and glad that he beat my time,” Robert Said. “I wouldn’t call it competitive as much as we just try to push each other to do better.”
At Camp Arifjan, the brothers don’t work with each other either. However there is no shortage of opportunities for them to spend time together. When they are not at work, they go to the gym, eat, and play video games together.
“It is a different experience having family with you during a deployment,” Raymond said. “It is a shared experience and makes a lot of things easier. It gives you someone to talk to and we can keep each other motivated.”