WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Growing up in a family with a line of military service can inspire young people to follow suit. This is the case for Tech. Sgt. Michael Reed and Staff Sgt. Jacob Reed, two brothers assigned to the 88th Security Forces Squadron.
According to a 2016 article in Time, “Pentagon data shows that 80% of recent troops come from a family where at least one parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, sibling or cousin has also worn their nation’s uniform. More than 25% have a parent who has served.”
The Reed brothers grew up in Clermont County, just to the east of Cincinnati, and have several family members who served in the Army. Their father and uncle were military police, and a grandfather was Airborne.
“Our dad served in Vietnam and our grandpa was supposed to be there on D-Day but ended up not going because he broke his leg on a rucksack,” Jacob said.
“We’re the first generation to join the Air Force. Our dad wanted us to go Air Force; he knew that the chow halls were better and we would be treated well.”
In 2007, Michael set out to join the Marines, but in the end decided to follow that advice. After talking to a Marine recruiter, he said it wasn’t the right fit for him.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I enlisted. I just knew that I wanted to carry a gun,” he added.
However, a Security Forces job was not his first choice.
“I originally tried for (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) school, but that didn’t work out as I had planned,” he said. “So I went with Security Forces instead, and I love it.”
Seven years later in 2014, Jacob decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“I always kind of looked up to him growing up, and I saw what he was making of his life after high school,” said Jacob, 27, who’s five years younger than Michael. “I have always wanted to be a cop since I was kid, and I just knew I wanted I want follow in his footsteps. So, it was a double win for me.”
Though life in the Air Force didn’t immediately bring them together, it was not too long before it happened.
In 2015, the Reed brothers both applied for and were approved for humanitarian orders to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, when their mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 cervical cancer. She passed away in 2016.
“We are grateful for not only this opportunity to have served together, but for the Air Force allowing us to be here together to spend the time with our mother before she passed,” Jacob said. “If it hadn’t been for the NCOs in our chains of command, it wouldn’t have happened because we didn’t know anything about the humanitarian orders at the time we got the news.”
Now, six years after being stationed together, the brothers are enjoying opportunities for their individual families to spend time with each other during this assignment.
“I’ve got a wife and three kids,” Jacob said.
Michael has a fiancée and two children.
“It’s nice because we are able to do things like family sleepovers, and the kids get to play together,” he said.
A trusted mentor
But the benefits of being stationed in the same place go beyond family and into the professional realm as well.
During their time with 88 SFS, the brothers have held a number of positions, some of which included them working side-by-side on the same shift in the Base Defense Operations Center.
Today, Jacob is an evaluator. He’s responsible for evaluating people applying for positions within the squadron and the Security Forces response during base exercises, as well as monitoring the unit’s overall health for the commander.
Michael serves in the Plans and Programs Office and is responsible for reviewing Department of Defense and Air Force instructions, along with other regulations. He compares requirements to the tactics used by 88 SFS to ensure procedures are being done properly and coordinates with the base legal office when necessary.
“It’s been a true blessing to serve with Jacob because I’ve been able to have talks with him off duty about things I experienced as an Airman, and kind of mentor him,” Michael said. “But he has also been able to help me become a better supervisor.
“I used to be seen as the hothead or stone-cold NCO, but Jacob was able to give me insight into what the Airmen were saying and how to be a better leader. He suggested that I work on being calmer, and now I am. In fact, I admired his leadership style, and so we kind of helped each other become better overall Airmen.”
As permanent-change-of-station season approaches, the brothers are looking toward the future and hope to get this opportunity again, but both agree Wright-Patt has been a great experience.
Jacob said he’s working on a bachelor’s degree and just re-enlisted. He also has orders for his next assignment at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, which will put him at 11 years in the Air Force. He says he isn’t sure what will happen after that.
“I’ll be in until my high year of tenure since I re-enlisted under that special option,” Michael said. “But what’s more important is just being there and providing for my family.”
But no matter what the future holds, both brothers say that family lineage of military service could continue into the next generation.
“I showcase the military to my kids and explain the pros and cons to them all the time,” Michael said. “But their decision to follow the tradition in the future to join a branch of the military will be completely up to them.”