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‘Brand’ of brothers: Twin Tiers Honor Flight was a family affair

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WASHINGTON (WBNG) - From the moment the Mission 10 Twin Tiers Honor Flight touched down in Washington D.C., the Brand Brothers were showing pride for the stars and stripes.

Michael, Thomas, and Richard Brand all served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Their brother, Fred Brand, joined them on the Honor Flight as one of their guardians.

While the day was filled with lots of laughs and smiles, the visit to the Vietnam War Memorial could only be described in one word.

"Brutal," said Michael, "One word, brutal for me."

The memorial wall lists more than 58,000 names, some of which they knew.

"It's a sad day," said Richard, "When you have to look at the names of people you worked with."

"You know we've all seen pictures and heard stories about this wall," said Thomas, "But it doesn't mean anything until you're here."

On the wall among the thousands of names are 31 sets of brothers, adding even more emotions for the Brands.

"Emotional day for me," said Michael, "I'm just so proud to be here."

"It's great to have brothers," added Richard.

"Being here has been just awe-inspiring," said Fred, "Not only just for the monuments but to be here with my brothers."

For the Brands, being in our Nation's Capital among the monuments and memorials gave them time to reflect.

" I was very young, I joined at 17 years old," said Michael, "Didn't have a clue what was going on in Vietnam in reality until later in life."

"I'm just glad the young people don't have to go through what we did when we were young," said Richard, "With the draft and everything you didn't have a whole lot of choices, you went in the service or you went to school."

"The years have gone by, maturity set in and a lot of things are not what they used to be," said Thomas, "It just hits you harder, it does, things mean a whole lot more, the simple things."

Through the emotions of the busy day, the brothers knew they had each other, all the way up to the big welcome home.

"Brotherhood is strong family ties and you realize just how important family is especially for us," said Fred, "We don't get together as brothers very often so this has been a very special day in a lot of ways for all of us."

They joked that until this trip they only had a few photos altogether, now the Brand Brothers have many more. Pictures from an experience they said they will never forget.

Kaitlin Pearson

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