ROCKEFELLER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — There was a moment during U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hallman's year-long deployment in Afghanistan that made it feel like home.
By coincidence in September, the 1997 graduate of Sunbury Christian Academy learned his younger brother, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Micah Hallman, a 2004 graduate of Sunbury Christian Academy, was passing through near where the elder brother was stationed in Kandahar Province.
The two brothers were granted permission to hang out and play pool before the younger Hallman had to leave for his mission.
"Everybody knows, if you have a brother or someone coming in, and we're in this crappy place, you go find him. It helps as far as morale," Nathan Hallman said. "It's a war zone. If you got family, they bend over backwards to try to get you guys together."
Micah Hallman, an 8th EAMS Air Transportation joint inspector, was "forward deployed" with a join inspection team to remote Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chakhcharan Sept. 17 to help with the inspection and movement of a downed UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, according to an article on the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing website.
Chakhcharan is a town and district in central Afghanistan, which serves as the capital of Gwhor Province. Chakhcharan is a NATO controlled FOB that is operated by the Lithuanian Army.
Hallman, 34, returned Nov. 10 to his Rockefeller Township home near Sunbury, where he lives with his wife of nine years, Jacinta, their four children, Caleb, 9, Bailey, 6, Max, 4 and Keira, 1, and their pitbull, Princess.
Hallman joined the Army in February 1998 as a reservist, and has only been deployed once before to Kuwait for 15 months in 2003.
Hallman said it takes time to readjust once home again.
"When you're going through it (deployment), you don't know what's changed about you until you get back. I've only been back two weeks, and it takes a while to figure out what about you is different and how to fit in again," he said.
As a reservist in the 358th Engineer Co., New Cumberland, Hallman is on active duty two weekends a month and two weeks a year. When he's home, he works as a corrections officer at a local prison.
He joined the military nearly 15 years ago for reasons he can't quite put a finger on.
"I always wanted to be in the Army. I don't know why. I don't know where it came from. I just always thought it was cool," he said.
He was deployed last year with the Army Corp of Engineers at Kandahar Province Air Field in Afghanistan where he specialized in carpentry and masonry.
"Our main mission was to build roads. We were out there where nothing existed so we could get stuff out there. The guys liked to call us the tip of the spear," Hallman said.
Most of the transportation in Afghanistan is done using donkeys or motorbikes, and the roads are dirt paths, he said.
They were busy "24/7 most of time we were there," and it was hot and miserable, Hallman said.
Depending on where they were, Hallman said some places were rough with nothing and some places were nice with everything — indoor showers, big screen televisions, X-Box consoles and Internet service with personal laptops.
In fact, he said, since his home in the township is a deadzone and does not have Internet access, the connection in Afghanistan was better than at his house.
This means he was able to communicate with his family at least once a week by phone or Facebook and keep up with the daily life through pictures.
This was actually how he found out his brother, Micah, was going to be near his area — by seeing a Facebook post and talking to his sister-in-law, Tysha Hallman, about it, only to learn he had an hour before his younger brother was scheduled to arrive.
"I didn't know where to find him. He has no cell phone. I walked into the terminal, and he was standing there, waiting for his ride. Luckily, his ride didn't show up on time," Hallman said.
He said a fellow airman noticed Nathan Hallman's nametag before Micah saw him.
To communicate with his wife and kids, Hallman said he had to wake up at 4 a.m.
He said it was rough on the family for him to be away for a year, and his daughter was hesitant to play with him when he was on leave for 14 days earlier this year.
"I don't know if she knows I live here yet," he joked.
Hallman recently signed up for another six years in the reserves, which would put his total service at 21 years. After that, he's not sure what the future holds.
"Let's see what happens at 21, and see what kind of shape I'm in," he said.U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hallman and his wife, Jacinta, live in Rockefeller Township with their three children, Max, 4, Caleb, 9, Bailey, 6, and Keira, 1. Caleb, 9, Max, 4, and Bailey, 6, are the three sons of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hallman and his wife, Jacinta. Rockefeller Township resident and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Hallman, right, unexpectedly met up with his brother, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Micah Hallman in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Both men are graduates of Sunbury Christian Academy. They were standing in front of Nathan Hallman's Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV), which Hallman describes as "something like a dump truck" that weighs 2.5 tons.