Cpl. Jose "Freddy" Velez served in Iraq. His brother, Spc. Andrew Velez, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Both died in their early 20s. They are survived by their sister, Monica.
"My mom left us when I was 7, so my dad was a single parent," Monica says. "And I did all the household chores. I got the boys dressed for school, I taught them how to ride their bike, I taught them how to read and write."
One of her favorite memories is when both brothers came back from basic training and told her she could no longer be bossy.
Lance Cpl. Travis Williams, 29, is an Iraq War veteran — and the only post-9/11 Marine to lose every other member of his 12-man squad. It happened in August 2005, when Williams and his teammates were sent on a rescue mission in Barwanah, Iraq.
"That morning, we loaded into the vehicle," Williams recalls. "And I get tapped on the shoulder, and I got told that I need to bounce up to the next vehicle. I said, 'Catch you guys on the flipside.' And that was the last thing I ever said to them."
In 2001, Daniel Hodd was 17 and starting a promising career as a concert pianist. But he also wanted to become a U.S. Marine.
"At 3 years of age, you walked over to the piano, and you just started playing," Evelyn Hodd tells her son.
He played until he was 17 and performed in the Metropolitan Opera Theater. Juilliard offered him a scholarship. But Daniel decided to go to the military instead. He enlisted in 2002 and deployed to Iraq in 2003.
"That was devastating for me. And then, you had an accident," his mother says.
StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the participants in this project have been speaking about being separated from their loved ones.
This week, Weekend Edition is featuring two stories of families reuniting after deployment.
Both of the Radlinski brothers served in the Navy. Luke deployed in 2001 to the Persian Gulf in support of the conflict in Afghanistan. His brother, Mark, went to Iraq in 2006.