Identical twin brothers Isaac and Stewart Smith hail from a military family and were raised on a dairy farm in southeastern Idaho. Both brothers pursued careers as pilots in the U.S. Army.
They wanted to fly. But who would have expected they would one day be flying together?
Achieving the rank of chief warrant officer 4, the brothers fulfilled their ambitions and were deployed together. Coincidentally, they both flew together in the very same Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan.
“I got to cross off two major bucket list items,” Isaac told the U.S. Department of Defense, speaking of a flight on Aug. 31. “One: I got to fly in an Apache. Two: I got to fly with my brother as the pilot for the first time.”
Growing up, both brothers fell in love with flying after witnessing their first helicopter static display at the young age of 11. The two oldest of six siblings, the brothers joined the Army National Guard at age 17 as cannon crew members.
After becoming ammunition specialists, they both served together with the Guard in Utah for four years before attending warrant officer candidate school and then flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
At that point, their paths diverged.
Isaac went into active duty, while Stewart remained with the Utah National Guard.
Isaac, now a HH-60M Blackhawk helicopter pilot, was deployed to Afghanistan in summer 2020 with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB), 4th Infantry Division for Task Force Mustang in support of Operation Resolute Support.
Stewart, now an AH-64D Apache pilot, was also deployed with the 4th CAB, 4th Infantry Division—the twins’ first deployment together. But the height of the experience was when Stewart piloted the Apache above Mazar-i-Sharif with his brother in the rear cockpit position.
“It was one of the few times an Apache pilot has hoped nothing exciting would happen because it was Isaac’s first time in this particular airframe,” Stewart admitted. “It was an awesome flight.”
Isaac said he had a greater appreciation for the attack helicopter and its pilots after the unique flight experience.
Operation Resolute Support is a NATO-led noncombat mission with the aim of training, advising, and assisting the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in Afghanistan and has been active since Jan. 1, 2015.
The twin CW4s, Isaac and Stewart, have plans for life after their shared deployment. Isaac intends to retire from the military, move home to be with his wife and six children, and start a new career as an EMS pilot.
Stewart will return to his positions with both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Utah Army National Guard. He also plans to return to Utah to be with his wife and four children.
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