Camp Pendleton, California (CNN) – Daniel and Joshua Beans don't spend a lot of time together and don't have much in common. But these brothers share a bond only troops who've marched into battle can fully understand.
Three years ago, Daniel, a Marine corporal, and Joshua, a Marine lance corporal, patrolled the streets of Ramadi, Iraq, together as part of the same infantry unit.
“We were lucky enough to be in the same platoon," Daniel said. “We both traded out being turret gunners and drivers for our respective vehicles.”
After returning home, the Beans brothers said they felt there was still more work to do.
“Both of us feel like we have something we owe to our country,” Daniel said. “And we have the means to repay it with our service.”
The brothers started looking for another Marine Reserve unit preparing to deploy. They wanted to fight the war in Afghanistan, and that's when they volunteered for the 1st Battalion, 23rd Regiment known as the “Lone Star Battalion.”
Marines think of themselves as “brothers in arms.” But when the Beans brothers joined the unit of mostly Texas reservists they discovered brotherhood runs deep.
The “Lone Star Battalion” uniquely includes five sets of brothers:
– Lance Cpls. Guillermo Hernandez, 27, and Raul Hernandez, 24, from Corpus Christi, Texas;
– Cpl. Daniel Beans, 24, from Gainesville, Florida, and Lance Cpl. Joshua Beans, 23, from Tampa, Florida;
– Lance Cpls. Jonathon Faseler, 21, and Matthew Faseler, 19, from Jourdanton, Texas;
– Gunnery Sgt. Hector Vega Cigarroa, 35, and Sgt. Francisco Vega, 32, from Houston; and
– Lance Cpls. Cody Henrichsen, 22, and Bobby Henrichsen, 19, from Katy, Texas.
This real-life band of brothers has even surprised longtime veterans of the Marines Corps. The unit's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Todd Zink, said the family bonds make this Marine unit stronger.
“I was surprised when I heard it myself,” Zink said. “I think it can be a force multiplier in the sense that no one knows you better than your brother and to have him close by probably gives you strength in trying times and the difficulties that lie ahead.”
There are no U.S. Marine Corps policies that prevent brothers from serving together on the front lines. But Marine officials said it's more unique to the reserves because these Marines usually join units near their hometowns.
The journeys of each set of brothers to this point are unique. Most had no idea that their unit included so many blood brothers.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said Hector Vega Cigarroa, who is serving alongside his younger brother, Francisco. “Years from now, when we're both grandfathers, we can sit there and talk to our grandchildren about it.”
The “Lone Star Battalion” is wrapping up its final training missions in Camp Pendleton. In the coming weeks, it will begin a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.
The intense final preparations bring into sharp focus the hazard and danger they’ll soon face in Afghanistan. And each set of brothers admits that having family around helps ease the stress.
The Hernandez brothers come from a family with deep military ties: Their father fought in Vietnam. Guillermo Hernandez, a lance corporal, joined the Marines first. His little brother, Raul, recently promoted to lance corporal, followed in his footsteps, and now they'll go to war together for the first time.
“I don't think there's anyone better to keep me safe than him,” Guillermo said. “It's a little reminder of home. It’s comforting having him here, knowing he’s safe.”
But for the families of these soldiers, the strain of war deployment is doubled. And each set of siblings said the idea of watching two brothers march off to war triggers a complex set of emotions for their parents – fierce pride and gut-wrenching anxiety.
The Hernandez brothers said their mother has cried a lot.
Cody Henrichsen said his mother is “emotional about the entire thing.”
But the families do find comfort knowing the brothers will be fighting together.
“I think they take comfort in knowing we're both going,” Daniel Beans said, “being able to get each others' backs instead of going separately.”