CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Marine Corps Sgt. Eric Rader and his sister, Air Force Staff Sgt. Rebecca McHenry, never imagined they ever would serve together. But their deployment together in southern Afghanistan has made them close in ways that will last far longer than their time here.
The siblings’ father, Allen Rader, was an airman who took his family from their home in Charleston, W.Va., to Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and even overseas. Eric and Rebecca have carved out similar lives for their own families. “We always had each other,” said Rader, who deployed here in February. “Looking back at it now, I really appreciate having her and my brother, and appreciate serving with her now.” The siblings said they’ve had a lot to catch up on since McHenry arrived in September, including Rebecca’s wedding.
“We both have our own families now,” Rader said. “We will definitely spend more time together when we get back home.”
McHenry serves with the Air Force’s 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, which flies injured troops out of Afghanistan when the medical care they need is greater than military hospitals here can provide. “I love being able to help those who need it most and keep brave troops alive,” she said.
“There is a great sense of pride in knowing that my sister helps my fellow Marines and other troops get back on their feet and home to their loved ones,” Rader said.
Rader is deployed with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. He serves with the headquarters of the air combat element for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force’s Regional Command Southwest, and helps units rotating in and out of Afghanistan.
“I am very proud of my brother for being a Marine,” McHenry said. “I like knowing that he does a great job, and I see the fruits of his labor, seeing all the Marines walking around in Afghanistan [and] knowing he played a small part in that.”
Despite the rigors of deployment, Rader and McHenry said they find time to speak about their lives and families back home almost every day.
“My sister is always sitting at the dining facility waiting for me at lunch,” Rader said. “It makes the time go by faster, having something to look forward to almost every day.”
“He used to pick on me sometimes,” McHenry said of her brother. “Since being out here, he has only been protective — the perfect gentleman.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)