SOUTH CHINA SEA – Facebook newsfeeds were flooded with throwback photos of brothers and sisters celebrating National Siblings Day on April 10.
Two lucky Sailors in the John C. Stennis Strike Group, the Edejer brothers, were able to spend National Siblings Day together, at sea, aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110).
Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Erljay Edejer, assigned to William P. Lawrence, hosted his older brother, Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class (AW) Jhulem Edejer, assigned to the Warhawks of the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 embarked aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The brothers were able to spend three days together at sea, despite the demands of a 7th Fleet deployment.
“It’s a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Jhulem. “It’s not everyday they tell you that you’re going to fly to the ship your brother is on for a couple of days to spend time with him.”
The Edejer brothers weren’t the only ones to recognize and appreciate this unique opportunity. The brothers’ reunion uplifted William P. Lawrence Sailors’ spirits, and Erljay’s leadership seized the opportunity to share their observations with Jhulem.
“Everybody we passed around the ship stopped us to say how cool it was to have my brother on board,” said Erljay. “To hear the chiefs and officers on the ship tell [Jhulem] that I’m doing a really great job here means a lot. He knows I’m doing well, it feels great that he gets to hear that.”
Erljay has had a successful tour aboard William P. Lawrence. Advancing to the rank of first class petty officer in five years, Erljay credits his successes to his older brother who has guided him in his Navy career.
“When I first took the ASVAB [armed services vocational aptitude battery] I felt rushed and didn’t do very well,” said Erljay. “I went back to working full-time.”
Jhulem didn’t give up on his little brother’s Navy dream and offered to move Erljay out to Hawaii, where he was stationed, to live with him.
“I took the ASVAB again when I got to Hawaii,” said Erljay. “I got a better score and I wanted to work with computers, so I was offered electronics technician and fire controlman. Without my brother helping me, I probably wouldn’t have been able to make first class in five years.”
As the older brother, Jhulem has always been a mentor for Erljay.
“We grew up in the Philippines and our dad was in the Army. He’d come home about once a year. We moved to the States, our parents eventually broke up, and then it was my turn to be the head of the family. Erljay looked up to me and I took it to heart,” said Jhulem. “I told myself I really had to grow up—for me, my mom and him. That’s why I joined the military.”
“I follow in his footsteps,” said Erljay. “I’ve seen what he’s done right—what has and hasn’t worked for him—and use that. He has more experience as a first class than I do. I’ve gone to him for help on writing evaluations for junior Sailors and for advice on how to be a good leader. With him, I’ll always have a mentor.”
The Edejer brothers are competitive as all siblings are, but selfless compassion and pride define their brotherhood. Jhulem wants his little brother to thrive in the Navy.
“We are both serving our country and protecting our families back home,” said Jhulem. “Being [deployed] in the same strike group and able to see his ship from Stennis is crazy. I know Erljay’s doing great things over here. I’m proud that I can share being in the military with him.”
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific, William P. Lawrence, commanded by Cmdr. Walter C. Mainor, is operating as part of the John C. Stennis Strike Group and Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
For more information, please visit www.lawrence.navy.mil or www.facebook.com/usswilliamplawrence.