From Austin Phillips whose Iraq address is Victory Base Complex, 6,372 miles from home in Hustisford, Wisconsin. He's a Team Leader in the National Guard 105th Cav. Background: Austin and his brother Matt ran a 9-hour marathon together in the desert heat at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico during pre-deployment training. The race was a commemoration of the Bataan Death March. The Phillips brothers ran in the Heavy Military category, meaning they wore packs weighing at least 35 pounds. They were among a handful of Wisconsin National Guard soldiers who finished the 26-mile race.
It was January of 1942 when five brothers enlisted in the Navy under the stipulation that they serve on the same ship. These five brothers served on the USS Juneau together and inevitably all died together in November of '42. The "Fighting Sullivans" were considered national heroes and their parents toured the country selling war bonds to help continue the fight.
What does this have to do with my deployment to Iraq? Let me explain.
I joined the Army to deploy with my brother and be involved in something bigger than ourselves -- together. I signed the papers with full knowledge of what "could" happen and we both understood the dangers involved.
I was recently pulled off a mission for the pure reason we we're brothers and no other.
After training together for months and working with the same soldiers, one of us was held back, and this is after we have already completed missions ... together. A letter was written to the person who made this call by my Mother and that still has yet to sway the decision. We have stated we will sign papers and do what ever it takes to make this work and yet to have an answer.
I would not be here or in this unit right now if it was not for my brother. Honestly, who would you rather have by your side; a person who cannot pass a PT test and doesn't want to be outside the protection of the base, or a person who you trust and wants nothing more than to be there?
Here is an excerpt from the letter that was written:
...My sons are very close to each other. As such, they understand each other completely, especially in times of danger or high stress. They feel it is important that they perform missions together, as a team, instead of being separated because they are siblings. ...There are no guarantees in life. As such, please allow my sons to live theirs and perform their duties, without focusing on the fact that they are brothers.
Now, due to the "Fighting Sullivans," people are under the impression that there is a law prohibiting brothers from serving in dangerous situations together. Well, that is BS. There is no such law, and filling trucks with less qualified soldiers puts more people at risk in the end. I am very adamant about fixing this or getting out of Btrp 1-105, because the ONLY reason I came to this unit was my brother. If anyone reading this knows of a solution, let me know. I could use it.
Photo - Jessica Arp, a reporter from a Madison TV station, poses with Matt and Austin Phillips during pre-deployment training in Camp McGregor, NM.