By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — They grew up together, they graduated from high school together, now they are serving their country together.
Brother and sister Staff Sgt. Kyle Kelly, 21st Communications Squadron, and Staff Sgt. Kayla Miller, 21st Operations Support Squadron, are serving at the same duty station for the second time. The first time the siblings were stationed together was at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.
The pair navigated through life growing up in Western Nebraska, participating in sports and sharing similar senses of humor as the years passed. Upon graduation things changed, but not for long. Kyle joined the Air Force right away with the goal of continuing his wrestling career in the military. That part of his career changed somewhat, but Kyle is still wrestling. He recently took second place in his weight class at the Rocky Mountain Nationals and is an assistant coach at Vista Ridge High School.
Kayla went a different way, playing catcher and outfield at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. After a couple of years she was still undecided about her major. Feeling the pressure of a sports, work and school schedule, she had a talk with Kyle that changed things for them both.
“I talked to him and he told me he loved (the Air Force),” Kayla said. “I walked into the recruiter the next day and said, ‘sign me up.’ It was two years to the day after he enlisted. It wasn’t planned that way.” When she had to put down choices of locations she would like to be stationed she put the only place she knew: Barksdale where Kyle was.
The two wanted to be together, it was the goal all along according to Kyle. Kayla didn’t travel much outside of her hometown, so making the move to a new area was daunting except for the fact her brother would be there.
“With him there it kept me from being terrified,” she admitted.
They lived in the dorms at the same time and things picked up like they left off at home.
“We played video games and stuff. It was like being back in high school,” Kayla said, “Dorm life would have been worse without him there.”
After his stay in Louisiana was complete, Kyle was stationed in South Korea. As his assignment there drew to a close he set his sights on Peterson AFB as the next stop. But not just for him.
“Once I got here we started trying to get her here,” Kyle said. And they did. Through a friend they discovered there was a position available here that Kayla was qualified for and soon she was a member of Team Pete joining her brother in Colorado Springs. Kayla stayed at Kyle’s residence off base while she got settled in and found a place of her own. Having that connection was a great benefit.
There are a number of benefits having a sibling at the same base the two explained. It helps in everything from networking where the work and social circles are doubled, to having a trusted dog sitter.
“It is a built-in support system,” Kayla said, “someone who understands military life who I can talk to.”
“We did everything together growing up because we are best friends,” Kyle added. “It’s great to have her around. We help each other out socially.”
They know it is not a light occurrence to be at the same duty station twice, they understand it is not a typical happening.
“The stars had to really align,” Kayla said. “I think we have a pretty strong guardian angel; she’s doing a good job.”
One of the best parts of being at the same location as his younger sister is the sense of family being around, Kyle said. She is someone he trusts and even though he doesn’t always follow it, her advice is usually on point. Kayla said it is easy to make friends, but with the constant moving in the military it is not easy to make long-term friends. With Kyle around that problem is moot.
“We aren’t naïve enough to think we will be on the same base forever, but it is good. I would not have thought of making a career of this like I am now if we were not together at the start,” Kayla said.
But for now their parents can usually catch both of their children on one phone call, since they are usually together.
“Our parents say, ‘are you still in high school,’” Kayla said, drawing a chuckle and nod of agreement from Kyle.