Time away from family is part of the deployment experience. But for two 28th Infantry Division Soldiers, mobilization has created an opportunity to build upon a familial bond.

Cousins, Sgt. 1st Class Zach Barnett, from Pittsburgh, and 1st Lt. Ryan Redilla, of New Florence, Pa., are serving in Qatar with Task Force Liberty, part of Task Force Spartan. They met several years ago through their service in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. When they did, they realized they’d seen each other before at family functions.

“I recognized his face from going to weddings,” Barnett said. “We met each other, and I said, ‘I think we’re related.’”

“We’re second cousins; our grandmothers were sisters,” Redilla explained.