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Sister at Kirkuk surprises brother with early promotion at Balad

  • Published
  • By Technical Sgt. Kevin Williams
  • 506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
He thought it would just be another day on the job. The last thing he expected to see was his sister, deployed to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, arrive here to congratulate him on his promotion to senior airman below-the-zone. They haven't seen each other in more than a year.

When Senior Airman Kevin Reilly, 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, came into work that day, his superintendent, who helped plan the reunion, decided to "distract" Airman Reilly with some verbal counseling. That gave his sister, 1st Lt. Erin Reilly, 506th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, a chance to sneak up on him.

"I hid in a back office," said Lieutenant Reilly. "His superintendent started talking to him sternly. I came up behind him and tacked his stripes on. He wasn't expecting me, so it was a delayed reaction. When he turned around, he had a look of dumfounded astonishment. He came around in a couple seconds."

Airman Reilly was given the day off to spend with his sister. After Lieutenant Reilly checked into billeting, the siblings from Littleton, Colo., got reacquainted.

"We went to the recreation center," Airman Reilly said. "She brought her laptop, and I brought my thumb-drive. We shared pictures and stories for a while. I was so surprised to see her. We picked up right were we left off."

After catching up and sharing deployment stories, they called their mom.

"She was really happy to hear from us," Lieutenant Reilly said. "She was not happy about me coming here because she was scared about me flying, but she was happy we were both together and safe."

"She thought it was great," Airman Reilly said. "She knew about the other times we tried to get together that didn't work out, so she was happy we got to hang out together."

The brother and sister have only seen each other twice in the past few years: once, at Airman Reilly's graduation from basic training in July 2005, and again at their father's funeral last year. Lieutenant Reilly was surprised at how much her little brother has grown up. He showed her the aircraft he maintains as an F-16 integrated avionics systems specialist.

"I've always been very impressed with him," Lieutenant Reilly said of her younger brother. "He used to work on race cars. He always had incredible aptitude on electrical systems. He's always been very bright at mechanical things."

Lieutenant Reilly, an Air Force Reservist deployed from the 39th Aerial Port Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., returned to Kirkuk that day. They look forward to seeing each other again this summer when Lieutenant Reilly will be home and Airman Reilly, deployed from 35th AMXS at Misawa Air Base, Japan, takes some leave.