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Brothers Serve National Guard: One In NASCAR, One In Iraq

Special to American Forces Press Service

CONCORD, N.C., March 2, 2004 – Jeff Silver of Forrest City, N.C., has followed a dream of working for a NASCAR team for the last seven years.

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Jeff Silver, left, and his brother, Sgt. John Silver, share an association with the National Guard: Jeff as part of a NASCAR racing team, and John as a military policeman. Courtesy photo

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Silver's older brother, John, shared the dream of working for a top-level NASCAR team, but he joined the Army right after high school and remained on active duty for 12 years.

About two years ago, John Silver decided it was time for a change and left the military to pursue other opportunities. The possibility of joining his brother in the racing industry was always in the back of his mind.

During those two years, however, our country went to war and John saw several of his friends head off to Iraq.

So, last December -- just as the National Guard decided to join forces with his brother's race team as part of the Guard's national advertising campaign -- John decided to enlist in the National Guard, fully aware that he would likely be deployed to Iraq.

"When you sign with the Guard, you know this is a possibility," said John. "I felt that it was my duty. I had been on active duty for 12 years and never seen combat. I was just tired of watching the news and seeing guys having to stay over there for so long.

"The more people who sign up to go, the more units that can go, the more units can come home, or at least have a shorter tour or even just a shorter shift on patrol," he continued. "I just wanted to support the greater cause."

Needless to say, John's family didn't take the news well.

"We're so proud of him," said Jeff. "When we found out, my parents were upset. He and I have a very close relationship, but we don't get to see a lot of each other because of our jobs.

"He and my parents have always been proud of me for what I do in NASCAR, because they're such big fans," he continued. "But now we couldn't be prouder of him for what he's decided to do. I don't know if I'd have the courage to do it. I'd go if I had to, but he signed up knowing he would probably have to go. We're all worried, but this is what he's always trained fo,r and he's ready for it."

John is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was expected to leave for Iraq at the end of February.

However, before he left, he joined his brother as part of a NASCAR Nextel Cup pit crew. John joined the No. 16 National Guard team at the Subway 400 as an honorary crew member.

"A lot of the guys in my unit are huge NASCAR fans," said John. "They were all pretty jealous when I told them what I was going to get to do. Some of my unit is leaving starting this Saturday, but my squad leader said he would make sure I didn't have to go until after Sunday."

John expects to represent the National Guard in Iraq for about 12 months, setting up checkpoints and serving on security patrols.

"I never would have thought that Jeff and I would both be associated with the National Guard in such different ways," said John. "I know that he'll be here every week showing his support for us over there, but you can bet that I'll be watching the races and cheering for him and the National Guard car all season too."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSgt. John Silver and other National Guard members help to push the Roush Racing No. 16 National Guard car into position. Courtesy photo   
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