Story and Photo by 1st Lt. Jessica Donnelly
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. – The National Guard is often considered to be a family. Serving your state and nation together creates a special, lasting bond and the Soldiers and Airmen you see at drill weekend turn into brothers and sisters. In some instances, they really are your sibling.
As brother and sister, U.S. Army Capt. Michelle Roberts and U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Roberts share many things – parents, last name, and dedication to serving in the military. As of Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, they shared one more common bond – their promotion ceremony.
The South Carolina National Guard recognized the promotion of Michelle Roberts to major and Michael Roberts to chief warrant officer 4 during a ceremony held at the Army Aviation Support Facility on McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover, South Carolina.
“I haven’t worked with more professional individuals than Michelle and Mike,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. John McElveen, 1-151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion commander. “It’s a very special day to get to see Michelle promoted to field grade and Mike put on CW4.”
Michelle and Michael were surrounded by family during the promotion ceremony as their mother and father pinned Michelle and Michael’s wife did the honors for him. Both siblings thanked their parents for the support they’ve given throughout their military careers.
“The only way Mikey and I are able to do what we do is because we have parents that support us and put up with our crazy ideas,” said Michelle. “I have to give them credit for Mikey and me. They’ve supported us through over four years of combined deployment time.”
Combined, the siblings have nearly 30 years of service in the South Carolina National Guard, Michelle with nearly 16 years and Michael coming in at 13 years. Currently, Michelle serves as an intelligence officer with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade on drill weekends, as well as a fulltime Intel Operations specialist with the SCNG Intelligence office. Michael serves as the Aviation Mission Survivability Officer for the 1-151st ARB, as well as an AH-64D Apache instructor pilot.
While the siblings are currently commissioned officers, they both started out in the enlisted ranks before Michelle completed ROTC and Michael attended Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
“We were both enlisted first,” said Michelle. “Once we were both on track to become officers, it was a race to see who would have to salute who first. He won.”
Michael explained he initially enlisted as an Aviation Operations specialist, but after talking to an aviation recruiter he knew that becoming a warrant officer was the path for him to be able to continue flying helicopters.
Michelle is the younger sibling and joined the South Carolina National Guard because she saw it as a good challenge, she explained. After serving a couple years, she realized how much she loved the National Guard as an organization and wanted to be a bigger part of it, which is how she made the decision to commission. She said when she first joined her dream job was to be a drill sergeant. Even though that goal was never fulfilled, she served her company command time with Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina as an Army Basic Training company commander.
“Shelly had a very large influence in my decision to join the Guard,” said Michael. “She always spoke very highly of being in the Guard and the fun she had at drill. She was a specialist at the time and pushed me to join and become an officer as soon as possible.”
While both Michelle and Michael have chosen different career paths within the SCNG, there is still a hint of sibling rivalry between them.
“There has always been a healthy competition between my sister and me,” said Michael. “Since we are so close in age, I think competition was inevitable. Our military competition is a little different since we are on the same team. Every now and then I like to remind her how I’m an attack aviator and she’s combat support, but this is just how a big brother teases his little sister.”
During the promotion ceremony, Michael added, “Welcome to field grade…I’ve been here for a few years now.”
Michelle explained she is able to hold her own as the more “hooah Soldier” between them, stating she was the first female to complete the Expert Infantry Badge test and has even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. However, he one-upped her by getting married and having a daughter, she added.
Behind the natural rivalry, they are still proud of each other’s accomplishments.
“He was meant to be a pilot and he is a heck of a good pilot…He cares about what he’s doing and is a great asset to the SCNG,” said Michelle. “Mikey has been a big influence in me staying in the Guard.”
Michael added, “She’s very, very good at what she does. No matter what unit she is in, they will be more successful in their mission set because of the experience in military intelligence that Shelly brings.”
Michelle and Michael have not served together in the same unit in South Carolina. However, in 2012 Michael was deployed with the 1-151st ARB when he was asked to extend. As his unit was leaving, Michelle’s unit was arriving at Camp Buering, Kuwait, where Michael was currently stationed while waiting to transfer to Qatar, he explained. For about a month, they were stationed together as part of the 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment.
Even though both siblings have made a career in the South Carolina National Guard, they did not have many family members who served in the military prior to them, besides their grandfathers, one being Army and one being Navy, explained Michelle. She added that while her parents were not initially excited for their children to join the military they support Michelle and Michael fully and her mother is currently the president of the Blue Star Mothers Club in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Both Michelle and Michael agree that the support of their families, both serving in the South Carolina National Guard and outside of it, has been the biggest influencer and impact of their service in the military.
“Our parents have always been more than supportive in anything we have done in the military. Neither Shelly nor myself would have been as successful without their support,” said Michael. “I couldn’t imagine going through all the training away from home and the deployments without the unconditional support of our family.”