1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Two deployed brothers -- Staff Sgt. Eric Breeden, a weapons squad leader from Company A, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division and Sgt. Charlie Breeden, a medic for the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have two very busy military careers that have taken them all over the world.
But thanks to various deployments and overseas assignments, the siblings have been unable to see each other face to face for more than six years. That is---until now.
Ironically enough, they said, it would take a deployment to Iraq and Charlie's promotion ceremony from corporal to sergeant here Sept. 1 to bring them back together.
"It's kind of hard that it has to be during a time of war, but this is really great and it's good just to have his ugly mug down here," said Charlie, of Portland, Oregon, with a laugh.
"You know, it's not happening under the best of circumstances, but we're happy to be here together," Eric, who claims Salem, Oregon as home, chimed in. "It wasn't too hard being apart though, over the years we stayed in touch with phone calls and emails."
It was a reunion that Charlie said he wasn't sure would actually take place. Charlie knew his brother was in Iraq and knew what Eric's unit was, but was unable to find him because Eric's working email address had recently changed.
"Like the big brother that he is, he kept pushing me to get promoted, so it was really important for him to be here, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for us to see each other," said Charlie. "I had to find him."
Charlie and his wife, Colleen, sent emails to the 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. which contacted the 4th SBCT, 2nd ID Public Affairs Office on Taji to help arrange the reunion. The 4th SBCT PAO located Eric, communicating with his chain of command and scheduled a flight for him.
Eric who is based out of Camp Warhorse, which is not far from Camp Taji, had just gotten off a long patrol when he received a special message just a few days prior to his brother's promotion ceremony.
"I was asleep and there was a knock on my door," Eric said. "My first sergeant told me you're going down to Taji to promote your brother. Although I was really tired, it felt really good to get the news."
"I knew he was supposed to be getting promoted sometime, but I didn't know exactly when," he added.
Landing on Camp Taji the night prior to Charlie's promotion, Eric met Charlie at the camp's passenger terminal. The two hugged and then, Charlie had a surprise for his brother.
"My roommate was at one of our outposts, so I let Eric stay in my trailer," said Charlie. "We haven't shared a room in nearly 20 years."
"I thought I was going to be staying in a tent," said Eric. "So this was much better than where I thought I would be staying."
Charlie said they were both in for a long night.
"We may not get much sleep," said Charlie laughing and reminiscing about all the times as children when they kept each other up at night hitting each other with tennis balls or throwing toys at each other.
"You better not try anything funny," said Eric feigning a warning.
During Charlie's promotion ceremony, Eric emplaced Charlie's new rank on his uniform.
"It's about time," said Eric, who is four years older than Charlie, with a grin.
"He was always the one asking me promotion board questions online, coaching me," said the 34-year-old Charlie, explaining that his brother was always like his protector and guardian in a way. "He would yell at me if I was short on promotion points, so I had to earn more to eventually get promoted."
Both of the brothers who are married and have children took the time together as an opportunity to catch up on news about their families.
"He has his bunch and I have mine," said Charlie, who has two sons. "He hasn't seen my boys much, so it's a chance for us to reconnect and give updates on the families."
"It's a good time to see how we're doing and how things are going at home," Eric injected, adding that he has three sons of his own.
Although they said they were ecstatic about seeing each other, their families back in the states were also excited about the reunion.
"My wife is really stoked about this," said Charlie.
"If our families couldn't be here for this, they're at least happy for us that we could be here and share in this moment together," Eric said.
The brothers said their family has the same wish that many families have for their loved ones who are deployed to Iraq.
"Our family supports us while we're here and they support the troops in Iraq, but they would much rather have us and all the other Soldiers come back home," said Eric.
The families back home are already busy making plans for when the brothers do get back.
"I talked to my wife and grandma and they'll be hooking me up with a big family reunion when I get home," said Charlie, who returns to Fort Hood sometime in early 2008.
"Don't worry, I'll rope you into one, too," he said to Eric, who returns in mid-summer 2008. "I know how much you like big crowds."
Although, their reunion on Taji was short the two brothers said they wouldn't have traded the time they spent together for anything in the world.
"It was awesome," said Eric. "I'm glad that 4-2 let me come down here, it makes me feel good to know that they would go to all the trouble to do this for me. It was also a great honor to come down here and see how the guys in Charlie's unit and the 1st Cavalry Division are working." "It was a pleasure to have him down here, at least for a day, and we took the little time we had here and made the best out of it," Charlie added.
Next year, the brothers and their families will have many more opportunities to see each other as Charlie will be taking an assignment to Fort Lewis, Washington where Eric is currently stationed.