By Spc. Elvyn Nieves 113th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentNovember 29, 2007
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Nov. 29, 2007) -- Most American servicemembers are separated from their loved ones while in combat, but one U.S. Army Europe Soldier was brought closer to a brother who is also deployed.
Capt. Phillip Garner of the 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery was already in Iraq when Spc. Alex Lamont Garner of USAREUR's 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment found out that he too would be deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"When they told me about the deployment to Iraq, I learned we were going to Camp Taji," said Alex. "I knew my brother had to go there frequently as part of his job, so I figured I'd be able to see him once in a while."
The siblings had that chance after about a year and a half of separation.
"We met up in Camp Taji a couple of times," said Phillip. "Our dad told Alex, 'When you see your brother, you need to salute him and then give him a hug.' And that's what we did ... It's a small world."
Later Fate and the U.S. Army brought the brothers even closer together, when Alex was sent to Coalition Outpost War Eagle, where Phillip was stationed.
"We've been to dinner a couple times; whenever our schedules match up, because I work nights and he works different schedules," Phillip said. "I work as a night battle captain and he as vehicle commander in the Stryker cavalry regiment."
Despite their differing duties, the Garners still manage to see each other every day. Alex says he stops in to see how Phillip is doing and chat about work.
The brothers agreed that seeing each other is great, but added that watching their children grow up through pictures and video is their biggest family challenge.
Yet while the Army has distanced them from family, family brought the Garners to the Army.
"It's pretty much a family tradition, because we grew up with our dad being in the Army, and he's still (on) active duty," Phillip said.
Phillip said much of the brothers' motivation comes from family - not just their father in uniform, but also thinking of their loved ones and focusing on their jobs to help keep them going until they are home again.
The brothers said they also get a sense of purpose from helping the people of Iraq.
"I like to see the Iraqi people out there. You see them happy; you see the kids waving, and it's kind of motivating to see that," Alex said.