By Michael Golembesky
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Growing up with a sibling, many never think about how those future life events will play out, but for two brothers stationed at Peterson, sharing in the retirement of one was something they could never have imagined.
The Air Force said farewell to Maj. Stephan Abate, Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 4 test director, after 22-years of faithful and honorable service to our Nation. But this ceremony was unique in the fact that the officer presiding over it happened to be his older brother.
“Growing up he (Stephan) hated taking orders and going to school so of course he was going to fit right-in to the military, but ended up becoming an officer and getting his master’s degree. The military has a way of maturing people,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Abate, 21st Comptroller Squadron commander about his younger brother.
But this is not the first ceremony Christopher has been a part of during his brother’s career. After leaving the enlisted ranks, Stephan thought it would only be fitting for his older brother to pin on his gold bar.
“He joined the military two years before me, enlisting into the Air Force while I was still in college. I commissioned him as a Lieutenant, I promoted him to 1st Lieutenant and now I had the honor of retiring him,” said Christopher.
Growing up in Rhode Island, the Abate brothers took separate paths after high school. Stephan headed into the civil engineer career field with the Air Force while Christopher was attending college, unsure of his plans after graduation.
“I had not been planning to go into the Air Force, but at the time there weren’t many jobs to be found in Rhode Island during this pivotal period of trying to figure out your life,” said Christopher. “With Stephan already being in the military for two years, it presented an opportunity that I would have otherwise not thought about at the time.”
What are the odds of being stationed at the same military base as your brother after twenty years apart, but to also have him be the one to retire you from service is something truly special.
“Twenty years in the military for me and twenty-two for him and we had never been stationed together until this assignment at Peterson. It was an honor to be a part of his whole cycle, from commission to retirement; that is something I never thought would have happened,” said Christopher.