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Face of Defense: Sister, Brother Re-enlist Together in Iraq

By Army Staff Sgt. Scott Wolfe
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Dec. 10, 2008 – Two deployed soldiers decided to make their re-enlistment a family affair.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Siblings Army Pfc. Marlene Banuelos and Army Staff Sgt. Normando Gallardo, natives of El Paso, Texas, swear the oath of enlistment administered by Army Col. Pat White during a Dec. 7, 2008, re-enlistment ceremony at Camp Striker, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Wolfe

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Army Staff Sgt. Normando Gallardo and his sister, Army Pfc. Marlene Banuelos, both Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers, made a six-year commitment to the Army together during a Dec. 7 re-enlistment ceremony at Camp Striker, Iraq.

The siblings, natives of El Paso, Texas, both are serving in Iraq, although at different bases. Gallardo is assigned to the 40th Electronic Signal Brigade based in Balad, and Banuelos serves with the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Camp Striker.

It was fitting for the siblings to re-enlist together, as the two have influenced each other’s careers. Banuelos said she initially intended on joining the Navy. When that path didn’t work out, she changed her mind and decided to join her brother in the Army. Gallardo drove his sister to see the Army recruiter.

“It was her own decision,” he said. “She couldn’t go Navy, so I told her I could take her down to the Army recruiter.”

Gallardo, a cable system installer, has re-enlisted for the sixth and what he said would be the final time. With 15 years in the Army, he has his sister beat by a few years both in service and age.

“I’m 22; he’s 35. There are 13 years between us,” said Banuelos, who serves as a gunner with the security detail team for the brigade’s command sergeant major.

Gallardo said his younger sister had the final word on when the two would commit to their new service obligation.

“I had to call her up to ask when she wanted to do this,” he quipped.

(Army Staff Sgt. Scott Wolfe serves in the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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Multinational Corps Iraq

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