Capts. Danny and Tyler Merritt are about as close as brothers can get.
"He's my best friend, even though I make fun of him," Tyler Merritt said. "We've deployed together and that's the most I've seen him, when we're deployed."
Now the two are business partners working in a Whitemarsh Island house. They started work early this year and they're already bursting at the seams.
"We've pushed out a thousand dollars of Nine Line Apparel since this morning began," Danny Merritt said.
That's right, $1,000 before dawn. Nine Line Apparel is a company they started after one of Tyler's West Point classmates Flip Klein was injured in combat.
"He lost three limbs in an IED in Afghanistan and we decided that it was part of our duty as service members to give back to our community," said Tyler Merritt said.
A portion of their proceeds goes to wounded service members. That hits close to home on many levels.
"As a helicopter pilot, a black ops pilot, one of my primary missions is to respond to those who have been injured, a casevac call, so helping them on the battlefield, then helping them back here, it does mean a lot to me," Tyler Meritt said.
They also hire veterans and veterans' spouses such as Erica Brode whose husband works on Hunter Army Airfield. She prints the T-shirts.
While Danny's embroidery machine is ten years old, he says it gets the job done and "it's unbelievably awesome."
They put out hats, t-shirts, fleeces and the very popular "man bag". It's fully loaded with survival gear, including a machete.
There's meaning behind the brand too.
"Nine line is a medevac call." Danny Merritt explained. "It's when everything goes wrong down range. It's probably the most important call you'll ever have to make to extract somebody from a battlefield."
They've deployed several times together, Danny Merritt even skipped Thanksgiving Day in the states to stay overseas and be with his brother who couldn't take leave.
"We started a foundation together; we served together, so it's just awesome," Danny Merritt said.
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