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Cousins climb through AF ranks together

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
“If he was a plumber, I would’ve been one too.”

He always idolized his older cousin, he was the one that taught him how to ride a bike and how to swim. So when he watched him leave for the Air Force, he knew that was what he was going to do one day.

Although separated by miles, their relationship remained close as his older cousin continued to guide him. Now, they have returned to each other’s side, both stationed at Moody, providing them with a unique opportunity.

Chief Master Sgt. Brandon Dunston, 74th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent, and his older cousin, Lt. Col. Christopher Dunston, 723rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, both promoted during a joint promotion ceremony June 28.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Chris said. “The fact that it’s lining up for us to get promoted together feels like it’s meant to be. Brandon is getting promoted to chief so quickly in his career and I’m getting promoted to Lieutenant Colonel after being prior enlisted so they are both huge milestones. Having this opportunity not only gives us pride, but also allows all of our family to be there and share the joy together.”

According to Brandon, the chance to be stationed together and experience an opportunity like this is something he’s been fighting for since the day he enlisted to serve with his cousin more than 19 years ago.

“Everything I did was because of [Chris],” Brandon said. “I joined the Air Force and became a crew chief because of him. I had never even touched a wrench before I enlisted. I went from never working on a car to working on F-16s all because I loved [my cousin] and I loved what he did.”

When Brandon joined the Air Force, Chris was a technical sergeant working as an avionics technician. According to Chris, he chose to commission so that his younger cousin could never outrank him.

As a leader in the same career field, Chris continued to teach Brandon, making him into the leader he is today.

“Leading is a natural ability for Chris, something that doesn’t come easy for me,” Brandon said. “As I’ve moved up in positions, I’ve been able to learn from any mistakes he’s made, as well as the positive ideas he has implemented in the past.

“The knowledge and experience I have taken from him is something you can’t buy or read in a book,” Brandon added.

Using his cousin’s ideas, Brandon was able to take a failing unit at his past base and make it better, implementing processes that still make it successful today. This is only one accomplishment that makes Chris so proud of his younger cousin, stating that he is proud of him not only for making Chief, but for always caring for his Airmen and how they are represented.

According to Chris, one of the benefits of having family so close is having a sound board, someone to talk to who shares the same mission.

“We both have similar personalities, always striving to do and to be the best, so we go to each other to see what the other did in certain circumstances,” said Chris. “If I’m doing something that’s not up to the Dunston standard, I can go to Brandon to get the ‘Dunston double check,’ and vice versa.

“I think that that has helped us the most, just having someone to bounce ideas off who always believes in doing the best in whatever you do,” Chris added.

It is this strive for success that Col. Stephen Scherzer, 52d Maintenance Group commander, Spangdalhlem Air Base, Germany, spoke so highly about during the Dunstons’ promotion ceremony. After naming some of their many accomplishments, Scherzer added that it’s not what the Dunston’s have done that got both of them promotion, it is what their leadership knows they are capable of doing in the future.