By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
Brothers Justin and Christian Keele designed a plan as youngsters to fulfill their military service.
Recently, the brotherhood made it official by signing up for the United States Air Force through recruiter Jennifer Nunez.
"Me and Christian talked about it a lot when we were younger and then kind of lost the idea as we got older," explained Justin, 24, who is six years older than his brother. "He signed up in high school, we talked about it, and picked it back up again."
That's when the competitive nature of the brotherhood kicked in full force. "He was bragging about his score, so I decided to take the test and scored pretty well," said Justin, who managed to outscore little brother.
Justin Keele will report to basic training in San Antonio next week; Christian, 18, won't leave for basic training until early October. That means the two will be separated for about a four-week period, and the brothers have no guarantee they will be together after basic, although they have both signed up for tech school.
"I think it will be easy (to be separated) because we can still stay in contact," said Christian Keele. "We can go on leave at the same time and go on vacation. If we got stationed on the same base it would be crazy, but awesome."
The brothers say they are close — they like the same clothing and accessories, and are interested in tinkering with mechanical systems.
"He likes to work out, and me not so much, but I'd like to think I'm pretty strong," said Christian.
Both airmen said they are looking to make careers out of the Air Force, and are in it for the same reasons.
"My big thing is I hope it helps me with obedience and discipline," said Justin. "I'm looking forward to serving my country and do something out of the ordinary, something that you can't do in Mt. Vernon like working at a grocery store or fast food. I'm also looking forward to traveling."
Christian added, "I'm looking forward to going to tech school to work on planes. When I retire, hopefully I'll be able to get another job working on planes, but even if I can't get a job doing that, I would like to work on cars. That's something that I like to do."
Both men got a glimpse of life in the service from uncle Mike Gay, who is retired after a 24-year career in the Air Force. Gay gave the Keele brothers coins from his travels around the world and visited Scott Air Force Base often when Gay was on active duty.
"My uncle Mike was in the Air Force and got to travel all over the world. That was a big inspiration for us," said Justin.
The Keele's are the parents of Dave and Pam Keele. Justin graduated from Mt. Vernon Township High School in 2008; Christian in 2013.