MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Zade Becker and his younger brother, Austin, grew up on a small farm at the basin of the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. Living in the country meant not having any neighbors around, so the brothers spent a lot of their time together playing on the farm.
“We had the typical brotherly relationship,” explained Senior Airman Austin Becker. “We fought and beat each other up, like young boys do, but we still watched out for each other no matter what. My brother had a big role in my life growing up, because our parents spent a lot of time working to provide for us.”
Entering their teenage years, they had their own interests and friends. Following high school graduation, they both journeyed out on their own paths.
At the age of 20, Zade chose to enlist, something both brothers had contemplated for a while.
After eight-and-a-half weeks of basic military training, Zade graduated. Only an observer on that day, Austin says watching Zade lit a fire in him.
“I remember watching my brother march across the parade field; I was so proud of him,” said Austin. “Seeing him graduate from BMT renewed my own motivation to join the military.”
A few months later, Austin found himself in his brother’s shoes marching across that same parade field while Zade settled into his first duty station at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
After BMT, Austin headed off to security forces technical training just like his brother did a few months before.
“Although Austin joined after me, in a way, I followed in his footsteps,” explained Senior Airman Zade Becker. “He wanted to join right out of high school. It was him who inspired me to join because he knew it would be good for both of us."
The military has a strange way of bringing people together, and in this case, the Becker brothers were the beneficiaries. Austin completed technical training and received his first duty assignment. Just one year after Zade arrived at MacDill, Austin joined him.
“I was very excited to find out he was coming to MacDill,” said Zade. “For me, it was a chance to take my baby brother under my wing and teach him everything I could.”
Throughout their time at MacDill, the brothers have served in various positions within the 6th Security Forces Squadron.
At one point, both brothers even worked the same shift as marine patrolmen. The roles were now reversed, because Austin was the seasoned veteran and Zade was the new guy on the team.
“I was able to spend a lot of time teaching him tips and tricks on the boat as well as everything I knew about marine patrol,” said Austin. “It’s kind of crazy how the roles had reversed and I was teaching my older brother.”
Throughout their time serving together, their brotherly bond has strengthened.
“Even though we are away from family, we still have one another,” said Austin. “He’s the person I can relax and play video games with or have a serious conversation with. He knows what it’s like to live the military lifestyle.”
Before, they were brothers, now, they share another endeared title -- wingmen.
“My brother is hands down my best friend,” explained Zade. “We have our differences, but I know I can always count on him.”