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Roanoke “Brothers in Arms” Serve Together in Iraq

Sgts. Steven Spurrell (l) and Andrew Kintgen

by Thomas Mori

The wind kicks up the sand and conceals the sun in what is a normal, overcast Iraqi day.

Two soldiers step through the red and white painted headquarters door of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, and shake the dust from their hair. Despite the small fact that they wear different nametags, there is no question the Roanoke natives, Sgts. Andrew Kintgen and Steven Spurrell are in fact half brothers.

Born three and a half years apart, the interaction between the two belies a closeness that only brothers can share.

A friendly competitive spirit between them etches a mischievous grin on Kintgen’s face as he explains his faster promotion to sergeant, although joining the Army about a year after his younger brother. “I’m just more awesome,” Kintgen brags as his brother laughs.

The two were not always able to be so close due to rocky childhoods, and did not really get to know each other well into they were in their early teens.

“We had different fathers so some say we are not technically brothers,” Spurrell explains. “But to us, we are real brothers.”

Without knowing they possess different last names, many people automatically assume they are related, due to their strong facial resemblances.

“We get mistaken for one another all the time,” Kintgen said, explaining the common mistake.

The younger of the two, Spurrell, age 24, was the first to enlist during the surge in 2006. After completing basic training he was stationed in Korea.

His older brother pulled him out of a foster home so that they could join together; unfortunately, extenuating circumstances delayed Kintgen from being able to enlist until a year later.

When his brother graduated basic training and received orders for Fort Hood, Texas, Spurrell put in his permanent change of station request to join him there. They ended up as Lancers, just in time for the 2009 deployment to Joint Security Station Sadr City.

“Originally we were in the same platoon until they found out we were brothers,” Kintgen said.

“Deploying together is cool,” Spurrell said, “but it can be scary at times.”

Spurrell recounted one particular incident during his deployment; he was in the Battalion Tactical Operations Center when his brother’s vehicle was hit by an explosive formed projectile resulting in the death of a soldier.

“I was worried, to say the least,” Spurrell said in a gross understatement.

The two brothers, still serving with the Lancers, are again deployed to Iraq but this time at Contingency Operating Station Kalsu, located in the Babil province.

Spurrell is a team leader with Company A, while Kintgen is with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company scout platoon.

“We are always trying to outperform each other in everything we do,” Kintgen said. “It becomes part of our leadership style, too. I’m always trying to make my Soldiers better so that I can say my guys are better than his, and he does the same.”

Kintgen will be promotable soon, and wants to go to Drill Sergeant school at Fort Jackson. If Spurrell can, he wants to follow his brother.

Future plans for the brothers are to stay in the Army and try to stay together, they also both wish to be command sergeants major one day.

“Now those would be some competitive battalions,” laughs Kintgen.

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