A brother and sister who both serve in the U.S. Navy and have been separated for the past 30 years were finally reunited.
In an emotional reunion, long lost siblings Cmdr. Cindy Murray and Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Robert Williamson came together at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) on Friday.
The siblings, originally from Denver, lost contact in the late 1970s after their parents split up and went in opposite directions. Williamson, about 6 years old at the time, remained with their father in Denver. Murray, about 14 at the time, moved away, losing touch with both her father and little brother.
The brother and sister lost all contact and for the next 30 years searched high and low for one another.
Little did the siblings know that they had both enlisted in the U.S. Navy and were serving in the same state, less than 320 miles away from each other.
Murray, a senior nursing officer, is assigned to NMCSD's Military Health Center. Williamson is assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
Finally, on Friday, the siblings got the reunion they had long been dreaming about.
As Williamson and Murray reunited, Williamson greeted his sister with a Navy salute fit for a commander followed by a long, heartfelt hug.
“It’s my brother!” Murray screamed through tears.
The pair were speechless as they embraced. They then walked hand-in-hand, both visibly overcome by emotions.
Murray said she and her brother had tried for so long to find each other but, despite technology and social media, the pair just couldn’t connect.
“I tried looking on Facebook, but there are a million Robert Williamsons. There are a million Bobby Williamsons. Without pictures, I wouldn’t have known what he looked like anyway,” said Murray.
After their parents separated Murray took her mother’s maiden name – a reason why it was difficult for Williamson to also find Murray.
About two months ago Murray called her father, whom she hadn’t spoken to in decades, and he told her that her brother was a chief in the Navy.
Murray gave her brother’s name and information to her leading chief petty officer (LCPO), Chief Petty Officer Hospital Corpsman Jeremy Simon, and he made the siblings’ connection possible.
“I got my chief and said, ‘Find his name, this is my brother!’ said Murray.
Within 15 minutes, the two were connected on the phone.
Williamson said the phone call from Murray’s LCPO came as a complete shock.
“He said, ‘Well, I’m pretty sure my boss is your sister. Do you have a sister named Cindy?’ I went silent and said, ‘Yes, I do,’” he recalled.
“That first call we both cried,” said Murray. “I still cry. I still look at pictures and get really emotional.”
“He was like my live doll,” Murray said, remembering her childhood with her brother. “I would cook in my Easy-Bake-Oven for him. I remember holding him in my arms when he was just a tiny baby.”
After that first phone call two months ago, the brother and sister have called each other frequently, catching up on decades of lost time.
With each phone call, the two learn more about each other and the similarities in their lives.
For instance, they both have more than 20 years in the service.
They also have a few other, smaller things in common.
"We both love Goldfish crackers and we both love the same types of TV shows," said Murray.
Following Friday's reunion, Williamson said he and his wife planned to spend the weekend in San Diego with his sister.
Moving forward, the siblings plan to see each other as much as possible.
They plan on spending the holidays together this year, possibly taking a family vacation to Cabo San Lucas.
The siblings said they’re thankful to Simon and the Navy for being the conduit to find each other.
Simon said his role in making the long-awaited reunion possible was one of the “proudest moments” of his career.
"Our Navy is awesome and to find out that they are both serving does not surprise me. There is a bond among siblings and where one is serving you can usually find another," Simon said.
Williamson said he’ll forever be grateful for his sister’s determination to find him.
“The main thing is to never give up,” said Williamson. “Multiple times she looked and looked and one little phone call ended 30 years of no contact. Amazing. Outstanding.”