Raul and Louis Sierra are brothers who hugged this month for the first time in 37 years.
When Army Command Sgt. Maj. Raul Sierra returned from his 9-month deployment in Kuwait to Fort Carson, Colorado, his brother, Army Sgt. Louis Sierra, was waiting to finally meet him. They were 3 or 4 and living in Brooklyn, N.Y., the last time they saw each other.
“We’re like grown men now. You’re meeting a grown man, but that’s also your blood brother,” Louis, now 40, told ABC News of the encounter. “I never know what to do. Should I cry? Is that not manly though?”
As for Raul, also 40, he told ABC News: “The biggest deal to me was that it was natural. It was like talking to another Army buddy that I know that I hadn’t seen in a long time. He’s not just my brother in uniform. He’s my brother-brother.”
Louis said he can barely remember when he last saw his brother before they were separated as children, along with another brother and sister, from their parents during the 1970s.
“We had two parents, who were like into just alcohol, drugs, just not being really good parents,” Louis said. “They just didn't care enough, and things just got split.”
“Our childhood was stolen from us, and it’s something we can never get back,” Raul said. “It’s brother and sister bonding that you’re supposed to have in your childhood, and that synergy will never be there because we were separated.”
Raul said after the siblings were split, he always wondered what happened to his brothers and sister.
“I joined the military in ’94. It was always a scavenger hunt when I went back to New York to find family because they were scattered everywhere,” Raul recalled. “But no one ever knew where Louis was at.”
Around 2008 or 2009, Louis said, he was on deployment when their brother, who is in the Navy, found him on Myspace and helped reconnect him with Raul. They kept in constant contact over social media and made plans to get together.
“We all happen to be in the military, which is like really weird,” Louis said. “We all think alike.”
Louis and Raul were actually supposed to meet up when they were both deployed in different parts of Iraq at the same time, but it never worked out.
In another missed connection, Louis chose to be stationed at Fort Carson last year, because Raul was also stationed there. But Raul was then deployed to Kuwait in September, although both are still stationed at Fort Carson.
Finally, after 37 long years, the brothers reunited at Raul’s soldier homecoming last Tuesday, where Raul was able to meet his brother’s wife and family. Raul's own wife is currently stationed in Hawaii with the United States Coast Guard.
Since their long-overdue hug, the two have kept in touch and have plans to get together and catch up.
“The military keeps you busy, and I haven’t had a lot of time off,” Louis said. “It’s good to be able to just message him, ‘Hey! What you doing today?’ At least now he’s there to catch up.”
The two hope to finally get together with their other brother and their sister, with whom who they also reconnected over social media. They also have a half-brother and half-sister.
“Now I have to get used to having brothers and hopefully getting a new sister soon,” Louis said. “[It’s] kind of like the last piece of the puzzle.”
Said Raul: “Regardless of what happened to us as kids, there’s no one to blame here. I would trust him with anything now like I trust any of my brothers and sisters in service.”