Siblings sworn to serve
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The choice to serve was never a topic of discussion, but something that came naturally.
“It’s always been engrained in our family to serve in some capacity,” said Lt. Col. Brian Stahl, prior 325th Training Support Squadron commander. “We never really talked about it and it wasn’t something that came up in common conversation.”
“It wasn’t a plan, it just ended up that way,” chimed in Lt. Col. Adrienne Stahl, 325th Maintenance Squadron commander.
Although, the decision to serve side-by-side as brother and sister wasn’t a coordinated endeavor, their career paths aligned when Adrienne entered the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., in 1999. Her brother, a senior at the academy, helped to push and motivate her along the way, giving her a unique freshman experience.
“I showed up in ’99 as a freshman when he was a senior, so that went well for me,” Adrienne said sarcastically.
As a freshman in the academy, life is challenging to begin with, Adrienne recalls.
“When you have a whole senior class of people who happen to be your brother and his friends, there is a different light and focus on you,” Adrienne chuckled. “You get a lot of attention that you weren’t necessarily seeking, but in the same vein, it was always in good spirit.”
Their journey together started at the Air Force Academy, but unbeknownst to them, they would cross paths time and time again.
“Once we left the academy, that was assignment one,” Brian said. “Assignment two was when we were at Langley Air Force Base, [Virginia]. So, I was flying F-22s [Raptors] with the 94th Fighter Squadron and Adrienne was actually a maintainer, the OIC (Officer in Charge) in the 27th Fighter Squadron just down the street. After we left Langley, I left first, I went up to the Pentagon and spent about two years working there and she came up there shortly thereafter. The fourth time we have been assigned together was here at Tyndall.”
“At every assignment, I’m following him, they can’t shake me,” Adrienne added.
Together they developed a humorous explanation as to why they have been so fortunate to receive multiple joint assignments.
“We have this theory that AFPC (Air Force Personnel Center) thinks we are joint spouse, so you have to assign the Stahls together,” Adrienne said with a giggle.
The two have always fostered a strong sibling bond, but wearing the uniform together has given them a new perspective on life and leadership, enabling them to grow and learn from each other.
“We have always had a really strong relationship, so I would say our relationship hasn’t necessarily grown stronger, but we certainly have learned new things about how we approach life,” Brian said. “We are different personalities, there is no denying that.”
“If you ask our mom and dad, we were like oil and water growing up,” Brian chuckled. “I was very straight-laced, she was pushing the boundaries here and there.”
Their unique personalities and leadership styles allow them to play off each other’s strengths, teaching them new ways to approach challenges associated with command positions.
“Growing up as CGOs (Company Grade Officers), now being commanders, what we have learned is you can take the best parts of each other, learn and try to apply that to whatever situation you are in,” Brian explained.
With Brian’s recent departure from Tyndall, the siblings look to the future.
“You just take it day-by-day, year-by-year,” Adrienne said. “We are optimistic and hopeful that we will cross paths again.
“But as far as our relationship goes, the bonds are forged,” Adrienne added. “There is no going back.”