Nevada Army National Guard unit has nine sets of siblings
Not Calgunners - But I thought this is very neat story - I didn't know about the "Sullivan situation" till I read this article -
ETA - Manic Moran pointed out that there are Calgunners in this Guard unit -
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. (AP) — Drizzle falling from gray clouds dampened the helmet of Spc. William Lowell while he manned a machine gun atop a tan-colored Humvee.
His brother, 27-year-old Walter Lowell of Las Vegas, sat below, clutching his M-4 rifle as he peered out the rear-seat window, looking for movement in the dense, hardwood forest.
Ahead of them in the convoy, brothers Andrew Petersen, 26, and Derek Petersen, 24, prepared to radio word of ambushes or roadside bomb attacks to other patrols in the area.
The Lowells and the Petersens are two of nine sets of brothers serving in a Nevada Army National Guard unit due to deploy in a few weeks to Afghanistan.
Their convoy drill in Indiana came several days before nearly 700 soldiers from Nevada’s 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry were due to join a surge of some 21,000 U.S. troops in the NATO effort to oust Taliban insurgents and rebuild roads, schools and Afghan infrastructure.
“It’s certainly a wake-up call when you hear about all the stuff going on over there,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Petersen.
“It makes you train harder here so we’ll do the right thing over there,” he said.
Like their Army brothers in arms, these brothers said they were committed to the squadron’s missions to provide security for provincial reconstruction teams, convoys and forward operating bases.
“As far as the mission goes ... I think it’s about time that we sent more soldiers over to Afghanistan because it’s just as important as Iraq,” Spc. Andrew Petersen said.
The National Guard lets brothers serve together in combat without special waivers.
Lt. Col. Scott Cunningham, the squadron commander, said brothers and friends are encouraged to join units together to build cohesion.
The Lowell brothers volunteered for the Afghanistan tour despite opposition from their father, Frank W. Lowell, a Vietnam War Air Force veteran. He said he fears a so-called “Sullivan situation,” named after five sibling sailors from Iowa who died when the USS Juneau sank during World War II.
“I don’t like the idea of both of them going over together to serve but it’s what they want,” Frank Lowell said.
Spc. Walter Lowell, a cavalry scout, will go into rural areas to intercept insurgents before they can launch attacks on friendly forces. He said he feels comfortable with the role because as a boy he was “a little commando in the streets. Nobody was better at hide-and-seek than I was,” he said.
His brother, William Lowell, 29, knows what to expect from having served active duty. He served a tour in Iraq, while his wife and two daughters waited for his return.
He said he wants to be in Afghanistan to support his brother and carry on the family’s tradition of military service dating to the Revolutionary War. He said one of their distant uncles fought at Gettysburg, Pa., with the 20th Maine Regiment during the Civil War.
“My brother and I are fevered patriots,” Walter Lowell said. “We love this country. We love serving this country.
“If something were to happen to him, I would honor him as a fallen soldier more than a regular fallen soldier because he’s my brother,” he said. “I know my family would want me to come home because they need emotional help, but I would want to continue on the mission.”
Likewise, the Petersen brothers are going together to be there for each other.
Andrew Petersen said he joined the 1st Squadron to fulfill a childhood desire to a superhero.
“A few years ago I always thought to myself that if my brother ever went, I’m going with him because there’s no way he’s going to take all of my thunder,” he said. “It’s great. We’re all brothers in arms but it’s even better when you have your real brother with you.”
Their mother, Sandra Gravett of Las Vegas, said she’s proud of her sons and tries not to think about the danger.
Having both sons deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom is “good and bad,” she said.
“I really pray for them that they come back safely. I think it’s a good thing because they have each other there to support each other,” she said. “I’m concerned, of course, because it’s a place that’s not real safe for anybody to be.”
Derek Petersen said it would be “a crushing blow” to think he would have to carry on without his brother.
Andrew Petersen agreed. “It would crush me if I were to lose my brother over there, but I think he would want me to drive on and continue on the mission and worry about that grief later,” he said.
The drills at Camp Atterbury were designed to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.
One day, the task was to rehearse responses to an ambush or an explosion from a roadside improvised explosive device.
Signs with the words, “Complacency Kills,” on the side of the road served as a reminder to soldiers in the convoy to stay alert even though hours might pass before they encounter any action.
A bearded soldier wearing a robe with a scarf wrapped around his head hid behind a fallen log in the shaded forest ready to detonate a gunpowder charge concealed in a culvert. A black wire from a car battery ran for some 25 yards from his hiding place to the simulated IED.
As the first Humvee in one of three convoys drove by the culvert, he detonated the charge. Soldiers scrambled to attach a tow strap to the Humvee that had been deemed hit, even though no shrapnel or projectiles were used in the drill.
About 30 minutes later, the convoy with the Lowells and the Petersens arrived. Their Humvees stopped and soldiers on foot scoured the area.
The convoy encountered an ambush about two miles away, with would-be militants attacking with simulated rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles firing paint balls. Orange and pink paint splattered on the windshield of one Humvee.
Cunningham said the 221st Cavalry’s 1st Squadron will be in Afghanistan “at an absolutely critical time.”
“It’s at the tipping point,” the squadron commander said. “Counterinsurgency wars are not sprints, they’re marathons. People think we’re going to go in there and wave a magic wand and it’s over. But we’re going into a country that’s been in combat for 30 years.”
He said his soldiers, and his bands of brothers, were prepared.
Last edited by Saigon1965; 06-21-2009 at 11:11 PM..