By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever , 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 21, 2021
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Loerke, 31st Munitions Squadron crew chief and inspector, and Tech. Sgt. Jason Loerke, 31st MUNS noncommissioned officer in charge of vault maintenance are in a photo with family. (Courtesy Photo)
Tech. Sgt. Jason Loerke, 31st Munitions Squadron, noncommissioned officer in charge of vault maintenance, left, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Loerke, 31st MUNS crew chief and inspector, right, posed for a photo at Aviano Air Base, Jan. 20, 2021. Jason and Robert are twins who believe family is everything, regardless of the distance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ericka A. Woolever)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Loerke, 31st Munitions Squadron crew chief and inspector, left, and Tech. Sgt. Jason Loerke, 31st MUNS noncommissioned officer in charge of vault maintenance, right, pose for a photo. (Courtesy Photo)
“We haven’t been in the same room, car or space with each other for longer than one to three days in the last 10 years,” said U.S Air Force Staff. Sgt. Robert Loerke, 31st Munitions Squadron crew chief and inspector.
Most people who have joined the military likely have thousands of examples of self-sacrifice, large and small. One sacrifice in particular that many may have faced is long hours away from family.
“We’ve lived separate lives since I left home in 2007, so there’s a lot of lost time,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Loerke, 31st MUNS noncommissioned officer in charge of vault maintenance.
Jason spent most of his career at Minot Air Force Base, while Robert has been stationed in a variety of places such as at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Osan Air Base, Korea, to U.S. Army Fort Hood, Texas, and a few more.
In January of 2016, Jason was thrilled to receive orders to Aviano AB, not only would he be stationed in Italy, but he would also be stationed with his brother. After 13 years apart, both Jason and Robert would have the chance to live life side by side, just as they did when they were younger.
Originally growing up in Tucker, Georgia, Robert and Jason were inseparable.
“We literally did everything together,” said Robert. “We participated in the same sports, ate together, had bunk beds, and hung out with the same group of friends. Everyone knew the ‘Loerke twins.’”
Growing up in a family of five, Robert explained how he remembers how they spent their time.
“We were an active family, taking bike rides all over the city,’ said Robert. “We took family trips where we spent time with our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We played in different year-round sports, and it seemed like we were always outside.”
As they grew older, they both worked for their family-owned business, but as time passed, each of them wanted something different.
Robert said he grew tired of the service industry. He felt his life was like a real-life-ground-hog day. He knew he was meant for something bigger than himself and serving his country fit that perfectly.
While Jason who also worked with his parents, he said he needed an escape from the norms of what life had in store for him at that time. He needed more discipline and direction in life.
In May of 2007, Jason joined the world’s greatest Air Force, and it wasn’t even three years later in February of 2010, when Robert also lifted his right hand and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
“My brother and I are first generation Airmen from our family,” said Robert.
Their family was happy and “super proud” that both their sons joined the Air force, said Jason.
“I think it’s safe to say for both of us the Air Force has molded us into better men, who are more disciplined and more responsible,” said Jason.
With a combined total of 23 years of service, each of them share their own insight for future Airmen.
“Don’t be afraid of failure, you learn from failure, just don’t make that same mistake over and over and don’t be afraid to do the right thing,” said Robert.
Jason explained that it is important for Airmen to soak up as much information as they can, by keeping their eyes and ear open. He believes Airmen should never quit, although it will be hard, failure is expected but Airmen should always persevere.
But as brothers they share one important perspective.
“Family is everything,” said Robert. “Regardless of the distance, you aren’t really apart, we share experiences everywhere we go.