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Cousins reunite in Iraqi combat zone

14 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Jeremy Gadrow

A deployment typically means time away from family and struggling to maintain contact and relationships back home.  Of course, there are exceptions for everything.

For the lucky few like cousins Lance Cpl. Brendan Hetherman with the 6th Civil Affairs Group, and Lance Cpl. Kyle Woodbine with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, their deployment to a combat zone reunited them. 

As fate would have it, Hetherman and Woodbine, who had been out of touch with each other for nine years, both transferred to Battle Position Hue City after spending their first several months in Iraq in separate locations.  They arrived within days of each other – neither knowing that the other would be in the area. 

“I wanted to make the deployment go faster,” said Hetherman, an Easton, Penn., native who is currently serving at the Al Qa’im Regional Civil Military Operations Center. “I figured the change of scenery would make it seem to go by a little quicker.”

Woodbine, a Providence, R.I., native, had been supporting Operation Steel Curtain and “after that operation ended, we came to Hue City to provide support for the Marines here,” he said.

Although Hetherman was aware his cousin was in Iraq and with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, he was pleasantly surprised when he discovered the battalion was providing security for the 6th CAG Marines.  He immediately went looking for the cousin he hadn’t seen in years.

“It’s kind of weird,” said Woodbine. “We hadn’t really seen each other since I was 12. Then one day, I came back from a patrol and there he was.”

Family is very important to the two relatives, as can be seen while they talk together about their other relatives. Only two years apart in age, the same height, and same shaved hair, the two look as close as brothers as they argue about a football game. Even though they lived in different states, they were almost always together during their summers as children.

“One of our families would always come to visit the other and leave us there for a little while,” said Hetherman.

After years of traveling to see each other, the two fell out of communication due to work and school commitments.

“We just couldn’t keep in touch with all our other stuff going on,” said Hetherman.

Since finding each other again, the cousins are close to inseparable. Any spare time they have is spent talking and catching up on the past nine years.

“We talk as much as we can,” said Woodbine. “Since we have different obligations though, we don’t get a whole lot of chances all the time.”

“While he is out on patrols I’m usually inside making payments or fixing anything that breaks in the building,” said Hetherman. “But it is really nice to have someone close to talk to.”