AKASHAT, Iraq --
Two brothers, both reserve Marines separated by time and distance, reunited Oct. 3 in the most unlikely of places: a desert outpost located in a remote northern region of Iraq’s al-Anbar province.
Lance Cpl. Christopher William Years, 22, was born in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., and spent most of his youth in Sasebo, Japan, where his father, a 10-year U.S. Army veteran, was working as U.S. government civilian employee.
Christopher is serving as a scout with Fox Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5. He has been working out of both Camp Korean Village and Combat Outpost (COP) Akashat, but it was in the latter post that he ran into his brother.
“(Akashat) serves as a forward operating base for insurgent and criminal interdiction operations along the Iraq-Syria international border,” said Master Sgt. Gene Locklear, 43, the information operations officer for 2nd Bn., 25th Marines, RCT-5, from Laurinburg N.C. “In addition, the Marines manning COP Akashat are also tasked with conducting combined operations with the Iraqi Police within the town of Akashat itself.”
Christopher joined the Marine Forces Reserve in May 2005 and was assigned to Fox Co., 4th LAR Bn., 4th Marine Division in Eastover, S.C.
“I’ve always wanted to join the military since before I could remember,” said Christopher. “The Marines just seemed to be the best choice. My father was in the Army, and you can’t beat the military life.”
Lance Cpl. David Phillip Years’ home unit is Delta Co., 4th LAR Bn., 4th Marine Division, in Quantico, Va. When he deployed to Iraq, his company attached to 2nd LAR Bn., RCT-5.
David, 21, was also born in Kansas and grew up with his brother in Japan. He just completed his seven month tour with the roving LAR unit based out of Akashat, where he served as a mortarman.
Like his brother, David attributed his affinity for the military to his positive experiences growing up “as a military brat,” but stated that his brother was his inspiration for choosing the Corps.
“I knew that I was going to join, but was unsure as to which branch. After seeing my brother graduate (from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C.) in 2005, I knew that the Marines was the right branch for me,” said David.
Even though Christopher took the family lead in joining the Corps, David was the first to deploy to the front lines of the Global War on Terror in March 2008.
David’s tour at Akashat came to an end when he saw his brother Christopher, covered in dust from several hours on the road, arrive on a convoy that brought Fox Co. to replace the 2nd LAR Marines at the remote combat outpost.
“It felt awkward at first,” said David. “Whenever my brother and I see each other, we don't really talk about our life in the Marines, so actually seeing each other in a place of duty felt different. But at the same time, it was very exciting. It was a big relief, because I knew seeing him getting off the (truck) meant that I was returning home soon.”
The brothers were able to spend about three days together. David arrived back to the U.S. on Oct. 9, but Christopher’s tour is just beginning.
“It is what it is,” said Christopher. “I am here to do a job, to make sure bad things don’t happen back at home. If I didn’t believe in what we are doing, I wouldn’t have signed up. I did it knowing I would have to come over here. So did my brother. I just never thought we would be here together, even for a little while.”
Although they each had their own set of friends and peer groups growing up, being 13 months apart, the Years’ brothers bond as Marines is based in large part on their mutual experiences as athletes and in high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
“We played baseball together in high school at E.J. King American School in Sasebo, Japan,” said Christopher. “We got to go to Beijing for a week to play in a tournament. We both like sports, working out and have great pride in what we do.”
The acme of their relationship was when Christopher asked David to be the best man in his military wedding service at Parris Island in Oct. 2006.
“Seeing him getting married meant a lot because it really showed how far we have come in life,” said David, who is currently pursuing a career in the fire department in his hometown of Dumfries, Va.
As for Christopher, he intends to return to South Carolina next year to finish his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Charleston Southern University. He plans to either become a police officer or apply to Marine Corps Officer’s Candidate School.
As U.S. Forces gradually redeploy and hand over responsibility of Iraq’s security and governance to the Iraqi Security Forces, the Years brothers can always look back at the day in October 2008 when they had an unexpected reunion very far from home, serving together in the Corps in the Global War on Terror.