Sibling natives of Mount Clair, Va., Capt. Phillip Garner, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment and Spc. Alex Garner, 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment had the opportunity to meet each other during their deployment to Iraq after a year and a half separation. (US Army photo by Spc. Elvyn Nieves, 113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
By Spc. Elvyn Nieves
113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BAGHDAD – Being a U.S. Army Soldier is a job filled with pride and honor for those who step up to meet the challenge but also comes with many hardships. One of which is the Soldier is separated from his loved ones when deployed to serve his nation.
Very few service members can say they were able to see a family member during a deployment. But brothers Capt. Phillip Garner, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment and Spc. Alex Lamont Garner, 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, were able to exchange a warm handshake and hug in combat zone.
While Phillip was in Iraq, his brother, Alex, who was stationed in Vilseck, Germany, found out a few months ago, 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, natives of Mount Clair, Va., 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.”
Eventually, those little meetings became more frequent. Alex was sent to Coalition Outpost War Eagle where his brother, Phillip is also stationed. Now, they have more time to share with each other.
“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.”
Though they may not share meals they still manage to see each other every day. Alex always stops by and talks for a little while to see how Phillip is doing and about their work.
The Garner brothers agreed that seeing each other is great but the biggest challenge seeing their children growing up through pictures and videos.
But they are able to handle the separation. Alex said he is satisfied with his decision of joining the Army since it gives him the opportunity to serve his country and help the people of Iraq.
“It’s pretty much a family tradition because we grew up with our dad being in the Army and he’s still active duty,” Phillip said.
Phillip said so much of their motivation comes from their family. Thinking about them and focusing on their job here helps keep the brothers going until they can get back home again.
They also get a sense of purpose from the same people they are helping.
“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.
For Capt. Phillip Garner, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment and his brother, Spc. Alex Garner, 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, natives of Mount Clair, Va., the separation of their families is one of the toughest parts of being a Soldier. The brothers didn’t see each other for about a year and a half and finally met as their mission brought them together in Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elvyn Nieves, 113th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)