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Brothers assigned to CJTF-HOA reunite at Camp Lemonier

By ;Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald | | February 22, 2003

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"Being here together at the same time was like a one-in-a-million chance," said Lance Cpl. George N. Hirniak, of Stanford, Conn.

The infantryman, with G Company, 2d Battlion, 2d Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), was referring to his older brother's recent visit here. His brother is Army Maj. Justin Hirniak, a procurement contracting officer from Rock Island, Ill.

"One of the civilians working here saw me one day and asked if I had any family in the Army," said Lance Cpl. Hirniak, who is here in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa. "I told him my brother was in the Army, and he asked if his first name was Justin. I said yes, and he told me that my brother was coming to the camp for a few days.

"I didn't know exactly what day he was flying in, but when he got here, he came to my tent to find me. All of the Marines in the tent stood at attention and stuff. It was pretty cool," said Lance Cpl. Hirniak, the youngest of five siblings.

Born 17 years after Maj. Hirniak, Lance Cpl. Hirniak said he and his brother see each other once or twice a year, so having the good fortune to meet up in Djibouti, even for a few days, was a welcome treat for the brothers.

Maj. Hirniak said, "I was a junior in high school when he was born. I joined the Army in 1987, so we didn't see each other too much when he was growing up."

When he was younger, Lance Cpl. Hirniak said he used to wear camouflage utilities his brother gave to him and play war with his friends.

He reminisced, "I've always looked up to my brother. He was my G.I. Joe brother when I was growing up. Every time he came home on leave he brought all sorts of really cool stuff."

The major admitted that he sometimes jokes around with Lance Cpl. Hirniak about his decision to join the Marine Corps.

"I tease him, but it really doesn't matter what branch of service he chose because, I believe every young American should serve his country in some way," explained Maj. Hirniak.

The last time the Hirniak brothers were together was April 2002.

The major said, "He's been a lot better about keeping in contact with me than I have with him. He calls every now and then, and we e-mail each other sometimes."

Although the brothers don't see each other very often, they have much in common.

Lance Cpl. Hirniak explained, "My brother is also an infantryman, so now that I am in the military, we can share stories and experiences."

"It was a really good morale booster to see him out here. He was home for Christmas, so he told me what the rest of my family is up to."

Even though the major was only here for a couple of days, he and Lance Cpl. Hirniak were able to spend much of their time together.

"His chain of command has been great. They've been very flexible with how much time they let us spend together," stated Maj. Hirniak. "I was actually pretty surprised because I didn't expect that. I know that training comes first, but they wanted to make sure we spent as much time as we wanted together."
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