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Brothers in arms

Senior Airman William Kirk, a MC-130J Commando II aircraft crew chief assigned to the 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, left, and Airman 1st Class Scott Kirk, a customer support technician with the 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron, pose for a photo in their respective workplaces on Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, Feb. 26, 2020. The two brothers hail from Evansville, Indiana, and are stationed at Cannon together where they use each other as a support system to build resiliency. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Maxwell Daigle)

Senior Airman William Kirk, a MC-130J Commando II aircraft crew chief assigned to the 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, left, and Airman 1st Class Scott Kirk, a customer support technician with the 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron, pose for a photo in their respective workplaces on Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, Feb. 26, 2020. The two brothers hail from Evansville, Indiana, and are stationed at Cannon together where they use each other as a support system to build resiliency. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Maxwell Daigle)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Sibling bonds can be one of the strongest relationships due to a shared upbringing and competitiveness. That strength can allow them to succeed together when following similar life paths. For two brothers here at Cannon, they understand the rarity and opportunity of being stationed together by taking full advantage the situation.  

The two brothers are Senior Airman William Kirk, 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron MC-130J Commando II crew chief, and Airman 1st Class Scott Kirk, 27th Special Operations Force Support Squadron customer support technician.

With both of them being tall, spectacled, broad-shouldered and easy going, the two bear a striking resemblance of one another, despite a nearly four year age difference. It is also easy to see how close they are to each other, although they admit that was not always the case when they were growing up in Evansville, Indiana.

“Me and Scott kind of hung out in different crowds growing up,” said William. “He played a lot of sports and I worked a lot, and our age difference played into that too. We had a pretty standard sibling rivalry until later in my teenage years.”

As the younger of the brothers, Scott was a little more playful with his perspective. “He definitely got mad at me a lot when we were younger,” he said with a grin.

Although their relationship improved as they progressed through high school at Mater Dei in Evansville, what brought them closer together than ever before was their path to joining the Air Force, which was walked by William first.

“I was in college and doing well, but I wasn’t putting forth nearly as much effort as I should’ve been and I weighed over 300 pounds,” said William. “I was definitely looking for a more meaningful, healthy lifestyle.”

During a trip to visit him in Colorado, William’s uncle, an Air Force veteran, suggested that joining the military would be a good way to get his life on the track he wanted and offered to help him lose the weight he needed to sign up. William didn’t waste any time taking up his proposal.

“I came back home for a week, quit my job and said bye to everybody and then moved back out to Colorado, where I lost 110 pounds before going to MEPS and shipping off,” said William.

About a year after William went to Basic Military Training, Scott decided to join as well, inspired by his older brother.

“I was just out of high school and I didn’t want to go to college at all.” said Scott. “I had come out to visit after he got stationed here and saw the success he was having, and realized that I could find a new way ahead in life the way he did.”

The impact William had on his younger brother’s decision to serve is not lost on him at all.

“It feels pretty great to know that I could get him on a meaningful path instead of him getting into some dead-end job or school he wouldn’t really want to be in,” said William. “The military really opens up doors and opportunities that you might never have otherwise, so I’m happy that I was an influence on his decision to take this route.”

While in technical training at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Scott got his assignment to Cannon. While he was hoping for a chance to travel to a different area after visiting his brother here, both him and his older brother were excited when they first got the news.

“We were very close by the time I got my assignment here, so I knew we’d have a great time out here,” said Scott.

While there are many reasons they enjoy the unique situation, the Kirk brothers believe the best part about being stationed together is how the level of empathy they have for each other’s experiences and how it lets them lean on each other when times get tough.

“We both had to lose around a hundred pounds to join the Air Force, so whenever we’re going through a rough patch and asking ourselves if joining was worth it, we can tell each other ‘hey, look at what we did to get to this point,’” said William. “All the struggles we go through here are pretty much dwarfed by what we had to do to get in.”

While William plans to one day work in the space industry and Scott is still mapping out his future, the two are certainly grateful to have had the opportunity to serve together at the same base and strengthen their bond as both brothers and wingmen.

“I’m definitely lucky to be with him and just know we’re there for each other,” added Scott. “We can talk face-to-face when we need to, hang out and play video games with each other to de-stress, and go out to eat if we had an especially bad week. Just having that built-in support system means the world to me.”