Brothers in arms fly together
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Members of the U.S. military oftentimes have relatives that serve alongside them, and this is the case for the Allen brothers, who were recently reunited at Exercise Max Thunder 15-1 in the Republic of Korea.
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jarrod Allen, an F/A-18 Hornet pilot stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., and currently deployed to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, and U.S. Air Force Capt. Jacob Allen, a U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot stationed at Kunsan Air Base, ROK, recently had the opportunity to fly and train together during the biannual air exercise at Gwangju AB, ROK.
"Since we are in different services and fly different fighter aircraft, we haven't really had the chance to work with each other in this type of element yet, so we were glad to have this opportunity," said Jarrod.
The first night of Max Thunder would see the brothers training together in defensive counter air exercises. In that training scenario, Jacob was leading the first four-ship of allied jets, whose task was to defend the area from enemy aircraft. As their time on-station neared completion, the second four-ship approached the airspace to take over responsibility. Jacob's brother, Jarrod, happened to be the lead of the second four-ship.
"The handoff of responsibility is based on timing, so it has to be precise," said Jacob. "When the second four-ship approached, I got to pass responsibility to my brother over the radio, who was then in charge of defending the area."
The brothers grew up as Navy brats, originally from the San Diego area. Their father was a naval flight officer for the E-2 Hawkeye, which motivated them to follow in his footsteps.
"Our dad was a big inspiration to us," said Jacob. "As far back as I can remember, I always knew I wanted to fly, just like my father. We would always go to see airshows, and that was so exciting for us both."
Now as captains, Jarrod, known as "Bluto," Jacob, known as "Apollo", fly different aircraft, but with similar missions.
Both brothers explained that they love their job primarily because in the end, what they do helps people.
"The F-16 provides close air support when troops on the ground call in, and we employ weapons as needed for them to achieve their mission objectives and most importantly, to survive," said Jacob.
The F/A-18 is also focused as a ground forces supporter, with the main goal looking out for Marines on the deck, Jarrod added.
"My current mission out at Kunsan flying the F-16 and working alongside ROKAF pilots is a great opportunity," said Jacob. "It's sometimes challenging, but I love it because it keeps me sharp. If I'm ever called to do what I'm trained to do, I'll be ready."
Even though they have not been stationed together, the two brothers occasionally bump into each other while on the job.
"Before this exercise, the last time we saw each other was in Jordan for a couple of hours," said Jarrod. "It wasn't long, but it's still good to see my brother any chance I get."
Max Thunder, the largest flying exercise held on the Korean Peninsula twice per year, is aimed at increasing U.S. and ROK interoperability with dissimilar aircraft and enabling the two allies to be battle-ready for any potential situation on the ROK.