Two hundred and sixty-nine soldiers and their families reunited Tuesday after nine months apart. But the 270th soldier, Raul Sierra, had been apart from his family member much longer than that.
Amid the tears of joy and celebrations unfolding around them at the Fort Carson Special Events Center Tuesday, Raul and his brother Louis were reunited after 37 years apart.
"I just came here so I could finally hook up with family," Louis said.
The brothers had been separated when they were very young, and hadn't seen each other since.
"Dad went one way and Mom went another," Raul explained. He was 4 years old and his brother just 3 at the time.
Decades passed, with the brothers living separate lives. A few years ago, thanks to social media, they connected online. They found out they had both become soldiers, and were even serving in Iraq at the same time. But since they were nowhere near each other, the brothers still couldn't meet up.
Finally, their paths merged after Louis was reassigned to Fort Carson. Raul was still in Kuwait when Louis moved to Colorado, but Louis knew that when the nine-month deployment ended, he and Raul would finally be in the same place.
When Raul marched into the Special Events Center Tuesday with the other soldiers, Louis was there in the stands waiting. When the soldiers were released to their families, the brothers embraced for the first time in decades. Despite having a lot of catching up to do, the brothers say they already feel a deep connection.
"We're blood brothers, brothers in arms, brothers in uniform," Raul said.