When Derek Allen helped prepare an A-10 Thunderbolt jet for a mission over Afghanistan a few months ago, the Akron man didn’t have a clue how close to home that flight would hit.
Unbeknownst to the Air Force staff sergeant, the jet was being dispatched about 50 miles away to assist his brother, Greg, a member of the 101st Army Airborne, who was involved in a firefight.
The brothers have not seen each other since Thanksgiving 2009, but that is about to change.
Greg Allen, 24, an Army specialist, is expected to arrive at his brother’s air base in Afghanistan on Sunday, and the siblings will spend Christmas together.
The chance encounter that has led to a full-fledged reunion doesn’t surprise the brothers’ father, Chuck Allen.
“They look out for one another,” he said.
Derek Allen, 27, said it was a “pretty good feeling” to know that a plane under his care at Bagram Airfield helped his brother and others in the 101st Airborne.
Derek Allen joined the Air Force after graduating from Archbishop Hoban High School in 2004. His brother, Greg, joined the Army in 2009 after graduating from Hoban in 2008.
“It is an indescribable feeling that cannot be put into words,” said Derek Allen of learning that one of his planes helped his brother.
He said he personally shook the hand of the plane’s pilot.
The brothers’ mother, Melissa Allen, works for the Summit County Fiscal Office, and Chuck Allen works for Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
“They care and love each other,” Chuck Allen said.
Thanks to Facebook posts by his brother, Derek Allen said he was able to piece together that one of his jets provided air support.
“It has been way too long since I’ve seen my brother,” he said.
The brothers plan to just “hang out” as they spend Christmas together overseas.
The two are closer to each other during their tours in Afghanistan, about 50 miles apart, than they have been for years.
Derek Allen is married to Ercilia Allen. The couple, who have two children, live in Arizona.
Greg Allen is married to Lauran Allen. They have a daughter and live in Kentucky.
Chuck Allen said his sons have grown up a lot since joining the military.
“The discipline and the things they have been able to see,” he said. “They are able to lead a life that is absolutely awesome to me.”
Derek Allen said he likes the thought of being able to help protect his brother from afar.
“It is like the older brother, the protector from above,” he said. “Like I’ve got your back.”
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at email@example.com.