JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
Three brothers graduated from Basic Military Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland together May 28. Airman 1st Class Jesus Hughes, age 28, Airman 1st Class Nicolas Hughes, age 26, and Airman 1st Class Daniel Hughes, age 25, went through BMT in the same flight from April 7 to May 28 and thereafter went off to technical school in avionics together at Sheppard Air Force Base in northern Texas.
“I think the comfort of knowing your sibling was there with you brought out a sense of confidence,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Wladkowski, Military Training Instructor for the brothers. “They worked together with the flight to achieve heights we never thought possible.”
Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Jesus, Nicolas, and Daniel all went to Canyon Del Oro High School in Oro Valley before going off to do separate jobs.
Jesus worked as a retention specialist at an insurance company. Daniel worked at a pharmacy as a call center representative.
Nicolas worked at a shipping company. One of his coworkers, Master Sgt. Lee Gomez, also served in the Air Force National Guard and he convinced Nicolas to tour the Guard.
“Everyone there loved their job and informed me that it was the best decision that they've ever made,” Nicolas said. “I was sold!”
Nicolas encouraged his brothers to join as well. From the beginning, the whole thing was about family for them.
Jesus liked that the Air Force looks out for its own and he also saw it as a source of stability so he and his wife could have children. Daniel saw how much everyone in the Air Force treated each other like family.
The brothers would have been fine whether they went through the process independently or as a unit, but their mother asked a favor of a master sergeant in the Guard, that her sons be kept together, and her request was honored. In the end, the brothers were and are very grateful that they have gotten to do this as a team.
“It really helped to have my brothers with me through BMT,” Jesus said. “It would've been more difficult without them. They helped me out a lot, especially when I felt homesick.”
“I loved every moment that my brothers were with me. I felt very blessed that we were in the same flight,” Nicolas said. “My journey was definitely easier with my brothers. If one of us was having a bad day, we could rely on each other to pick each other up.”
“Knowing not only can we trust our other wingmen but also trust someone with the same blood and background – that was something that was definitely easier,” Daniel said.
Right now, they live together in the dorms at Sheppard Air Force Base, and after tech school, they will work at the same flight line on F-16s in their hometown. All three brothers hope to stay in the Guard for at least 20 years and move up in rank before retirement.
“I expect great things,” Wladkowski said. “With Jesus’ personality, I know wherever he goes, brotherhood and camaraderie will follow. He has the brains and the grit to accomplish anything. With Nicolas’ work ethic, I see promotions in his future. He’s the kind of man that knows what he wants and attacks with motivation and dedication some only dream of. Daniel’s the leader; I think that he will very quickly become someone’s supervisor earning Below The Zone.”
Nicolas says the Air Force has given him more confidence than ever before. Daniel and Jesus are happy to now be a part of a large and supportive family in arms. Their parents, who were unable to attend the graduation ceremony due to coronavirus restrictions, offered enthusiastic congratulations from afar.
“We understood what they were going through because our emotions were the same,” Daniel said. “After graduation, all we did was find each other and embrace one another and tell each other how proud we are of one another.”