COP HADITHA, Iraq --
Two brothers from Clanton, Ala., half a world away from everything they know, still have one thing in common: each other.
The journey of the brothers working together began when Sgt. Steven N. Penley, 26, squad leader, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, was on recruiting assistance and recruited his brother Jeremiah Penley.
“I was in Lima Company before, and when I got back from my first deployment in 2003 I wanted to stay in the Marine Corps, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Sgt. Penley. “I liked active duty, so I decided to do recruiters assistance and [planned to] become a recruiter.”
However, his plans changed once he learned that his brother was deploying with 3/23.
“When I found out my brother and two other guys that I recruited were coming here, I turned down my recruiting package and came back to Lima Company and was put into 2nd Platoon,” said Sgt. Penley.
When the brothers arrived to Iraq they were in two different companies.
“It just worked out that I needed some different leadership and experience, so we traded with different companies,” said Sgt. Penly. “One of my guys wanted to go to a different squad, and I needed a good point man. That’s when I got my brother in my squad, which works out really well because we do everything together and work well as a team.”
Both Penleys decided on a working relationship and moved quickly to separate work from personal time.
“When we’re not working we’re brothers, but when we are working I’m a sergeant of Marines and he is a lance corporal in the Marines,” said Sgt. Penley.
They both share memories of home and can relate to each other when they need to comfort one other.
“Even though we’re not home with family, I still have my brother here,” said Lance Cpl. Jeremiah T. Penley, 25, a rifleman with Company L. “A couple days ago our
grandfather passed away, and it’s nice to have someone to talk to.”
"It’s definitely better having my brother here,” said Lance Cpl. Penley. “I wouldn’t want to come back and not have it this way; it makes it a little easier.”
Sgt. Arnulfo Rocha, 29, a team leader in the Penleys’ squad, commented on what it’s like being in the brothers’ squad.
“I’m glad that I got put into the Penleys’ squad,” said Rocha, who is from Houston. “He treats everyone with respect, and he doesn’t discriminate against anyone; we’re all Marines in his squad.”