Adopted Brothers Become Brothers in Arms

Timothy Hagen, and adopted brother Ryan Hagen, Platoon 2101, Company E, experienced rough childhoods, but were determined to join the Marines. They dreamed of becoming Marines since age 10, and today they accomplished that goal.

Individuals emerge from the depot after 13-grueling weeks of recruit training as hard-charging Marines with a common goal; defending their country.

However, before they step onto the yellow footprints, they come here from all over the United States from different backgrounds with their own personal reasons for joining.

Private First Class Ryan S. Hagen and his brother, Pfc. Timothy J. Hagen, Platoon 2101, Company E, joined the Marines seeking a challenge and a place to call home. After a long life of instability, bouncing around from foster homes to group homes and back, they found their real home with the Marines.

Timothy, a native of Mesa, Ariz., had a rough childhood since about the age of six. He was taken away from his parents due to their excessive drug and alcohol use and placed in a shelter for three months. When the day came for him to be placed in a foster home, he was unfortunately positioned with abusive foster parents. He remained there for the next three years before being transferred to a more caring home at age nine.

At this new home, Timothy was unaware of the brother he would soon meet, whom he would one day make a life-changing decision with to join the Corps.

Ryan, also a native of Mesa, went through a similar childhood. His mother and father were alcohol abusers who fought daily. This eventually led to Ryan and his father leaving his mother to start new lives.

After remarrying twice, his father settled with an abusive wife and Ryan was sent to live with his grandmother. His grandmother was getting older and came to the determination that she was too old to raise kids and Ryan, once again, was taken from what he knew as home.

When Ryan left his grandmother’s house, he was relocated to a group home. He had a hard time adjusting to his new way-of-life and dealt with his problems by fighting and running away. He moved in and eventually out of several group homes and placed in a facility for un-fosterable and un-adoptable children.

One day a single mother decided to give Ryan a chance and brought him into her foster home where, coincidentally Timothy resided.

Ryan and Timothy, both age 10 at the time, found themselves sitting in front of the television when a Marine Corps commercial was airing. it immediately caught their attention and their interest grew.

“We always told our mom that we were going to join and she kept telling us she wouldn’t sign the papers,” said Timothy. “When we were 14, the subject came up again and she still said she wouldn’t sign and if we wanted to go we had to wait until we were 18.”

Although she had made up her mind about not letting her boys go, she changed her mind when they turned 17.

“When they first asked me about the Marine Corps, my heart said no as a mother,” said Debra Hagen, Timothy and Ryan’s mother. “These boys have been hurt so much in the past I just didn’t want to see them hurt again, especially being at war.”

Debra said she is proud to see the two boys who were given away by their parents and thrown into chaos, make it in life. After all they have been through, she knows they will do well in the Marine Corps and whatever they set their minds to in the future.

Timothy figured his mother changed her mind because she realized this was what they wanted to do and she was not going to stand in their way.

When they arrived at the depot, they used each other for motivation and inspired one another when thoughts of quitting came about.

“The hardest part of training for me had to be going to the hospital for four days,” said Ryan. “I got pneumonia and had a temperature of 105 degrees during field week.”

Ryan said depression set in being in the hospital room all alone. He felt like he was going to be dropped to the next company and have to continue training without his brother who helped him get so far.

Fortunately, Ryan recuperated just in time to complete the Crucible, a 54-hour training event, and was allowed to finish boot camp with Company E.

“Making it out on time was a big relief,” said Ryan. “It means a lot to me that my brother and I get to graduate on the same day.”

Ryan and Timothy enlisted on the buddy program, allowing them to go through their primary and secondary training together and also serve at the same duty station for their first tour. They will be infantrymen and both plan on doing 20 or more years before retiring.

Today they graduate as basically trained Marines and look forward to receiving their infantry training at The School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. They had little control of how their lives started, but plan on making sure they choose how it continues.