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Brotherhood prevails from birth to promotion

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lt. Cols. Mike and Mark Brantley were promoted the same day during ceremonies at the Pentagon Sept. 1. The colonels are fraternal twins; Colonel Mark Brantley was born three minutes before his brother. Colonel Mark Brantley is the director of operations for the 6th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. (courtesy photo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Lt. Cols. Mike and Mark Brantley were promoted the same day during ceremonies at the Pentagon Sept. 1. The colonels are fraternal twins; Colonel Mark Brantley was born three minutes before his brother. Colonel Mark Brantley is the director of operations for the 6th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. (courtesy photo)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Family togetherness is a term not taken lightly by lieutenant colonels, fraternal twins who were promoted on the same day. 

Lt. Col. Mark Brantley and his brother, Lt. Col. Mike Brantley, are fraternal twins born only minutes apart. Colonel Mark Brantley is director of operations for the 6th Space Operations Squadron here; Colonel Mike Brantley is an action officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Operations Directorate at the Pentagon. They have military careers that have paralleled each other throughout much of their adult working lives. 

Promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel came only an hour apart for the twins. Born three minutes earlier, Col. Mark Brantley received his new rank before his twin at ceremonies held at the Pentagon. 

Maj. Gen. Maurice Forsyth, deputy director for global operations in the Joint Chiefs' Operations Directorate, presided over Colonel Mike Brantley's ceremony. Maj. Gen. Charles Stenner, Jr., assistant deputy chief of staff for Air Force strategic plans and programs, presided over Col Mark Brantley's ceremony. 

"I was honored to do it," General Stenner said. "Two guys growing up together, taking different paths and being promoted on the same day is pretty phenomenal." 

Though the two brothers do not serve together, neither would trade the experiences they've had together while serving in the Air Force. 

"To this point, the highlight of our military careers is being able to serve together in the same career field from our first days on the job," Colonel Mike Brantley said. The two officers were together through missile training and a four-year stint with the 490th Missile Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. 

"From there we were split up, but our paths continued to cross as the space-and-missile career field is fairly small with limited locations," Colonel Mike Brantley said.
Being split up was a new experience for the two brothers, who grew up virtually inseparable from the time they were born in Jacksonville, Fla., in 1967. 

"We moved to Tifton, Ga. just before the third grade," Colonel Mike Brantley said. 

There, the two attended school through 12th grade and became active in junior ROTC. After a year studying at a local agricultural college, the brothers decided to transfer to Valdosta State University, Ga., where they would continue their ROTC careers.

Commissioned from VSU in 1990, they waited until December 1990 to enter the Air Force. During the next several years, they attended many of same military schools, including undergraduate missile training and Squadron Officer School. 

Eventually, their career paths took them in other directions, with the older Brantley ending up at Schriever and his brother at the Pentagon. 

Colonel Mark Brantley explained 6th SOPS' role in providing backup to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from Schriever. The squadron conducts daily Defense Meteorological Satellite Program operations, providing weather data to the Air Force Weather Agency at Offutt AFB, Neb., and other users to support the Global War on Terrorism, other military operations and civilian activities. 

No military operation could be performed without its most valuable asset--people. Both colonels credit family, friends, peers and subordinates for their successes. 

The twins said their careers are defined through faith, support of their families and friends, and the encouragement received from peers and supervisors. Key assets of their careers are a strong work ethic, an enduring positive attitude, compassion for the people with whom they work and dedication to their mission to defend their country. 

It also helps to have someone who shares the same ideals and philosophies. 

"Even today, though I'm active-duty and Mark is a reservist, we still cross paths and stay connected," Colonel Mike Brantley said. "It's very cool to spend a career serving the country alongside your brother." 

Though the brothers have different jobs with the Air Force, each has future designs on other career objectives. Both would eventually like to serve as squadron commanders. General Stenner, who had just met the elder Brantley, said he feels both can go far in their careers. 

"Mike is a hard-working, dedicated, meticulous individual who has tremendous capability to advance in the U.S. Air Force," he said. "If his brother has like genes ... he's probably the same. If they continue accomplishing the missions they're assigned, they will both end up at the top of the heap and in command billets." 

Could the brothers end up being commanders on the same base in the future? It's impossible to predict, but it might be possible to achieve. The Brantley twins are proof anything can happen.

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