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Face of Defense: Brothers Serve Together in Iraq

By Army Spc. Josh LeCappelain
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, July 14, 2008 – Deployments usually separate families, but for two brothers from Arkansas, deployment to Iraq actually brought them closer.

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Army Sgt. Maj. Jim Snow and his younger brother, Army 1st Sgt. Joe Snow, are serving their second deployment together in Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Josh LeCappelain, Multinational Division Center

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“We live about six miles apart [in Benton and Bryant, Ark.],” said Army 1st Sgt. Joe Snow, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 39th Brigade Combat Team, first sergeant. “Here, it’s about 30 steps.”

Snow is on his second deployment with his elder brother, Army Sgt. Maj. Jim Snow, 39th BCT operations sergeant major. The brothers previously deployed to Iraq in April 2004.

The bond between the brothers brought them both back to the Middle East; one was scheduled to return, but the other was not.

“I didn’t want him here by himself,” 1st Sergeant Snow said. “I didn’t join the Army to sit on the sidelines.”

“It’s like when you’re a kid and you’re picking teams,” Sergeant Major Snow said. “You don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines when everyone’s playing.”

In the chaotic world of a constantly evolving war zone, the Snow brothers see some normalcy in each other.

“It’s good to see him; I see home,” the sergeant major said, noting that the inverse is true as well. “The pendulum swings both ways. … If there was an attack, I’d want to know right away that he was OK. I would be worried about him.”

The sergeant major echoed his concerns for his younger brother’s safety and said he believes the deployments have brought them closer.

“It’s easier for me, having him here,” he said. “It gives me a source to vent to.”

The Snows come from a long family history of military service. Their father spent time in the Navy, and their grandfather served in the Army.

Even with the Snow legacy of service behind them, they both agreed that it was tough on their families to have them both deploy at once.

“Our wives are pretty tight. It has the same effect on them as it does on us; they have someone there for them,” said the first sergeant, currently on his fourth deployment.

“Our mom, … she worries a lot,” his brother said. “Dad worries too, he just doesn’t tell anyone.”

Neither brother ever expected to make a career out of the Army.

“I never expected to last past my initial enlistment,” Sergeant Major Snow said. “I started looking for something, for my future.”

“He was already in when I enlisted,” said the first sergeant, who is seven years younger than his brother. “When I was a kid, I wanted two things: to be in the Army and to be a policeman. So, I enlisted as a military policeman.”

As children, the age difference between the brothers kept a distance between them. After 1st Sergeant Snow’s time in the active Army was over, he returned home and joined his brother in the National Guard. It was then that the brothers became closer.

“When I came home, that’s when it transitioned and became more of a friendship than just a brotherhood,” he said. “I was grown up then, not just a kid anymore.”

The brothers see each other every day here, if only in passing. Both agreed that their favorite moments in this deployment have been the cookouts they’ve shared.

“Joe cooks every other week,” the elder brother said. “It gives us a chance to throw the radios down and relax.”

“It gives us our little ‘out of the Army’ moments,” the first sergeant said.

The Snow brothers have about six months left on this deployment. Neither is sure how much longer they will serve in the National Guard upon their return to the United States.

But regardless of when their service to their country ends, they said, they always will have the satisfaction of knowing that they did it together -- as soldiers, as brothers and as friends.

(Army Spc. Josh LeCappelain serves in the Multinational Division Center Public Affairs Office.)

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Related Sites:
Multinational Corps Iraq
Multinational Force Iraq

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Sgt. Maj. Jim Snow and his younger brother, Army 1st Sgt. Joe Snow, are serving their second deployment together in Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Josh LeCappelain, Multinational Division Center  
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