Brothers in arms

WHITEMAN AFB, Mo -- For many American families, children turn 18, head to college, move away and may only see their families once a year, if that. For those in the military or with a sibling in the military, it may be even less than that.

Unlike these families, the Moensters had the opportunity to be in the same place at the same time, and they took it.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd “Eddie” Moenster, the 509th Bomb Wing chief of command post, and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher “Herman” Moenster, the 1st Battalion 135th Aviation Regiment commander, decided to take a route in their careers bringing them even closer, not just as brothers, but as brothers in arms.

Christopher desired challenge and adventure for his future, wanting to be a part of something greater than himself. He didn’t know for certain what this was going to be until a visit to the local university gave him an opportunity he couldn’t resist.

Two years later, in 1994, Christopher commissioned into the U.S. Army through an accelerated ROTC program at Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri.

For Todd, the decision was simple. The Moensters have a long heritage of service in their family. Many of their relatives served in the Army, Navy and Air Force during the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and during peacetime. Their ancestors led from the front, serving as artillerymen, B-17 Flying Fortress pilots, and boatswain. Because of those before him, he had been interested in a military career since childhood.

“For me, the military traditions of my family inspired me to serve,” said Todd. “Hearing their stories while growing up made quite an impact on my motivation to join. My brother deciding to serve in the Army furthered my interest in a military career.”

An airshow at Scott Air Force Base (AFB), Illinois, solidified his dreams of becoming a pilot, making the Air Force his top choice.

“From that point forward, I constantly researched airplanes and the Air Force,” said Todd. “This led me to a familiarity with the U.S. Air Force Academy, and I determined that was the best route for me to reach my goals and start my service to this country.”
On June 2, 1999, Todd transitioned from cadet to a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force with some assistance from his brother.

“My proudest moment was when I administered the oath of office to my brother and helped my parents pin on his bars as a newly-minted second lieutenant when he graduated from U.S. Air Force Academy,” said Christopher.

Since that day the brothers have shared experiences beyond those of the average siblings.

“I would say that it has strengthened the way we relate to each other,” said Christopher. “The shared experiences we have of losing friends, deploying, and personal sacrifice is a bond that has made us closer.”

Despite being from different branches of the military, they share the common bond of being brothers in arms, giving them two forms of brotherhood throughout their careers.

“I think the military has strengthened an already strong relationship,” said Todd. “Already brothers by blood, we also enjoy sharing in the brotherhood of arms.”

This is especially true for the two when it comes to flying. After flying the B-1, Todd snagged a slot as a B-2 Spirit pilot, landing him at Whiteman AFB, Missouri, with his brother who was assigned to Whiteman also, as a part of the 1-135th.

“We are still able to share a common love of flight,” said Todd.

While both brothers fill leadership positions, they are pilots by trade. The Moensters have not only gotten the opportunity to tour each others’ facilities, but they have gotten to see their brother’s true passions firsthand.

Last year, Christopher flew Todd on a flight in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.
“That was a real highlight for me to be able to fly my brother while on a training mission,” said Christopher.

Thanks to their joint service, they always have each other to deal with military-specific challenges that arise in their careers.

“We discuss issues of leadership, career progression, schools we need to go to, future assignments and even confide in each other when things aren't going well,” said Christopher. “It is good for me to know I can consult with someone who has no agenda other than to help me. I am there to do the same thing for Todd.”

Christopher says in addition to overseeing the beginning of his brother’s career, and standing by his side during, he may get to be the presiding official at his retirement as well.

Until then, the brothers in arms are sure to make time to just be brothers, too.