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Brothers in blue: Air Force, Army siblings serve in Korea

From left, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. John Clay, 51st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, U.S. Army Pfc. Jason Reddic, an intelligence analyst stationed at Camp Humphreys, and Senior Airman Cardale Hines, 51st Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental journeyman, stand for a photo near the MWD kennels at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Sept. 22, 2018. Clay, Reddic and Hines grew up together in Houston, Texas, and all three are currently stationed in Korea together. (Courtesy photo)

From left, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. John Clay, 51st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, U.S. Army Pfc. Jason Reddic, an intelligence analyst stationed at Camp Humphreys, and Senior Airman Cardale Hines, 51st Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental journeyman, stand for a photo near the MWD kennels at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Sept. 22, 2018. Clay, Reddic and Hines grew up together in Houston, Texas, and all three are currently stationed in Korea together. (Courtesy photo)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- For many service members, one of the largest challenges of military service is being separated from friends and family throughout deployments, temporary duty assignments and permanent changes of station.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, best friends U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cardale Hines and Staff Sgt. John Clay, and Clay’s younger brother, U.S. Army Pfc. Jason Reddic, never thought they’d end up in a foreign country together.

“I didn’t even see San Antonio or Austin until I joined the military, and they’re in the same state I grew up in,” said Hines, an electrical and environmental journeyman with the 51st Maintenance Squadron. “It’s a big culture shock for me, because it’s my first time actually being out and exploring outside of the U.S.”

Clay, a military working dog handler with the 51st Security Forces Squadron whose wife and children remain in the U.S. during his tour at Osan, is no stranger to separation. Still, it came as a surprise to him when the roulette of assignments landed him in the same country as his brother and best friend.

“I never thought that being in the military would have us in the same place at the same time,” said Clay. “We never thought even two of us would end up in Korea, let alone all three. I last saw my little brother in July 2017, and so this is the first time I’ve seen him since then; it’s pretty crazy that I got to see him in a different country.”

Clay and Hines met in seventh grade, discovering their mutual love for music and cars which served as a basis for the friendship that would last to this day.

“Out of everybody I knew, he was the realest friend I had,” said Hines.

Of the two, Hines joined the military first. Clay followed him a year after, which led to two of his younger siblings enlisting in the Army.

“Once (Clay) left for the military, it got me to thinking,” said Reddic, an intelligence analyst stationed at Camp Humphreys. “I didn't really know what I wanted to study in school yet, so joining the military gave me some time to think about that while also getting me out of the house to travel a little.”

Clay and Reddic are the middle of four brothers. After they joined, their youngest brother followed their lead by enlisting in the Army and is currently attending basic military training.

“Growing up in a single parent home, all we had were each other,” said Reddic. “We would fight about anything you name. Most of it was small and childish, but in that moment it was life or death. Still, all of us look out for each other no matter what.”

Clay and Reddic, who share September as their birth month, had the rare chance to celebrate their birthdays together in Korea before their next assignments send them on their own ways once more.