Face of Defense: Siblings Reunite While Deployed
By Army Staff Sgt. Melissa Applebee
U.S. Division South
BASRA, Iraq, Sept. 10, 2010 A pair of siblings boasts a combined 35 years of military service, more than five of which have been spent in a combat zone. Army Capt. Tanya Rosa and Army 1st Sgt. Greg Harvey are carrying on a family tradition of military service.
Army Capt. Tanya Rosa and Army 1st Sgt. Greg Harvey spend time together in Kuwait, the first time the siblings had seen each other in five years. Rosa wore her maiden name tape in the photo as a surprise for their parents. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Their father is a retired Air Force master sergeant and Vietnam veteran, their uncle was a commander in the Navy, and Harvey's son, Army Spc. Wayne Harris, serves at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"I don't remember a time in my life that my father didn't hang an American flag outside our door, something that didn't seem to catch on in many households until after [the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks]," Rosa said.
As a child, she added, she always wanted to follow in her brother's footsteps.
"He was always doing the ‘cool’ things and had the best imagination,” she recalled. “Of course, when he got a mongoose, I had to have a purple mongoose."
Harvey, first sergeant for an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior cavalry troop in the 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii, joined the Army in November 1990. He has deployed five times. Rosa enlisted in the Air Force in 1993. She spent 12 years as a Morse code interceptor before a brief stint with the National Security Agency as a civilian.
"Being in the Air Force wasn't enough for me, either,” she said. “I once again had to follow my big brother. I wanted to finish what I started as an officer in the Army [and] took a pay cut to become a lieutenant."
Rosa is deployed with the 1st Infantry Division as a public affairs officer. She previously deployed to Kuwait as a signal officer with the 1st Armored Division. She and her brother recently reunited in Kuwait when Harvey's unit redeployed.
While they were together, Rosa changed her name tape to "Harvey" for a photo opportunity to surprise their father. It was the first time the siblings had seen each other in five years. Rosa also paid a visit to Harvey's son when he passed through Kuwait.
While the miles may separate them, serving in the Army together has strengthened the bond Rosa and Harvey have had since they were children.
"We already were very close, but I'd say it has definitely made us appreciate the times we get to spend together," Rosa said.
Her brother agreed. "I consider us very close and supportive of each other,” he said. “We can relate easily.”
Being in the same branch of service has given them a level of understanding for one another that cannot be quantified.
"My brother is a hero in my eyes,” Rosa said. “Several of his comrades have given the ultimate sacrifice, and his best friend just recently lost his life. My brother, of course, does not allow this to stop him. He's the first sergeant after all, and he must take care of the troops.
"At that time, my mission was to be his 'Sis,'” she added. “I've noticed that's what he calls me when he needs me.”
Rosa said having a sibling in the military makes it easier to understand the need to come together through difficult times, which is made easier knowing they can lean on each other.
"It's a comfort to me to know if I need either a brother's advice or a first sergeant's advice, I have the absolute best of both just a phone call away," she said.
Their parents, John and Vickie Harvey, offer unwavering support from the home front.
"My parents were very proud of my brother joining the Army and later me joining the Air Force,” Rosa said. “[Now they have] pride that both of their children are now soldiers and combat veterans."
The soldiers’ parents spearheaded a volunteer effort to hold "Support the Troops" rallies outside the gates of Fort Rucker, Ala., every month, Rosa said. The Harveys began rallying in 2003, when a group joined together weekly to hold American flags and service banners outside MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
"These rallies were meant to show nonpartisan support for our brave military servicemembers," John Harvey said. "Three years ago, [when] we moved to Alabama, … there was no similarly organized display of support for the young men and women stationed at Fort Rucker."
Nine months ago, John set out to change this. He organized a group to show support weekly to the soldiers at Fort Rucker, and the group has garnered support from other residents, churches and community groups.