CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- A definition of a career for many is often thought to be that nine-to-fiver which allows a person to spend the rest of their time with their families and friends.
For Marines serving in Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, their career is one that not only demands the Corps’ values of honor, courage and commitment; it can sometimes require the Marines to spend many months in a combat zone away from their loved ones.
Lance Cpls. Robbie P. Courtney, 20, and his older brother Michel B. Courtney, 22, from Chugiak, Alaska, found themselves fortunate enough to encounter each other here March 3.
“I knew my brother Robbie was with (Regimental Combat Team 6) and I knew RCT-6 was replacing RCT-5,” Michel explained. “I wasn’t sure but I figured at some point I would see him around the base before I left.”
It would be nice to be able to see each other again but the brothers weren’t sure how difficult it would be to track the other half down and didn’t want to get their hopes up.
On pure dumb luck, Robbie bumped into his older brother’s friends one afternoon. They told him they would let his older brother know they saw him and would give Michel his room number.
“Some one came knocking on my door one night,” Robbie said. “I opened the door and there he was. It was really nice to see him again. It had been over a year since we last seen each other.”
Meeting with a family member in Iraq is not something they expected. The Courtneys having been apart for such a long time they found this a good opportunity to make up for lost time.
“I’ve been away from home for close to three years now so I’ve missed out on the stuff going on back home,” Michel said. “Robbie told me how mom and dad said they were praying for me and he let me know I’m now an uncle. He caught me up on a lot.”
After spending a few hours up getting back up to speed, the Courtneys made a phone call home to the rest of their family.
“I called back home and my mom picked up the phone,” Robbie explained. “She asked me if I seen my brother. I said, ‘Yea, here he is,’ and handed him the phone. She was surprised that we had found each other so quickly and she was excited for us to be together.”
The Courtneys knew speaking to their parents together made their parents very happy.
After talking to their parents, the pair decided to get together to watch a movie and relax. Since Robbie wasn’t sure how long he was going to be able to relax with his brother, he wanted to make the most of the time they had to spend together.
“Michel leaves to go back home pretty quick,” Robbie said. “Our jobs have us working different hours and it’s hard to say when we will be able to hang out again.”
Once Michel’s unit, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, goes back to the States, he will placed back in reserve status. It will be some time before Robbie returns home.
Robbie’s year-long deployment allows him a small break midway through to go home on leave. That is still four to five months down the road, but once he goes home his older brother will take a turn in catching him up on past events.
The Courtneys were always the closest out of the numerous brothers in the family, they said, and when Robbie goes home they will be able to spend a lot more time together fishing and camping until Robbie is called back to Iraq to finish his deployment and continue his role in the ongoing fight.