Nebraska Brothers Serve Together
(June 8, 2011)
Army Sgt. Bob Brewer meets with
an Afghan soldier at a checkpoint in the Musahi area
Army Sgt. 1st Class Steve
Brewer talks to a village elder in the Deh Sabz area
Army Staff Sgt. Tim Brewer
meets with Police District 16 Police Chief Sayeed
Farooq Sadat in his office to discuss operations.
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 6, 2011 – A Nebraska family
is serving its nation above and beyond the call of
duty, as three brothers are serving together in the
area of Afghanistan's capital of Kabul and live in
nearby Camp Phoenix.
All are in the same
unit, are infantrymen in their 20s, and are married
with young children.
What are the odds of
“Slim to none,” said Army Sgt. Bob
Brewer, who turned 26 June 1, the youngest of the
All serve with C Troop, 1st
Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Fury.
They also serve as contract officer representatives
for NATO Training Mission Afghanistan's Regional
Support Command Capital, serving as the command's
eyes and ears on structural projects for Afghan
police and army needs in Kabul and areas of the
The brothers all are in the
Nebraska National Guard, which explains, in part,
why they're serving together here. But the fact that
they're all infantrymen and Airborne qualified also
Oldest brother Army Sgt. 1st
Class Steve Brewer, 29, is Ranger qualified, and
middle brother Army Staff Sgt. Tim Brewer, 27, is
air assault qualified. All three have been awarded
the Combat Infantryman Badge.
shooters,” Bob said, reminiscing about their
boyhood, adding they all had Red Ryder BB guns and
used to shoot them at each other -- "not in the
eye," he added, evoking a joke from the movie “A
“It's just what we're good
at,” Bob said of shooting.
The Brewers mainly
grew up in a rural setting, Bob said. Their parents
separated when Bob was 3. Over the years, he and his
sister were raised by their mother, and Steve and
Tim, for the most part, grew up with their father.
Their sister, Jackie, is the senior sibling and
served in the Marines during the invasion of Iraq in
2003. Steve was in the theater at the same time,
though they never met up, as she was in Kuwait, and
Steve was in Iraq. Jackie worked as an aircraft
generator mechanic, Steve said.
Steve now serves on a 13-mentoring mentoring team
for Afghan police officers in three districts.
“As an infantryman, you fight,” he said. “I had to become
peaceful.” One of the districts is in the Deh Sabz area,
which Steve described as one of the poorest. “Poor” takes on
a new meaning in Afghanistan, where the average annual
income is $500.|
“We've done a lot in Deh Sabz,” Steve
said, adding that $3.7 million has been spent to improve
In his last two deployments, Steve
was a sniper.
“All three of us were in Iraq together”
in 2005, Steve said, describing it as “mind boggling.”
“Both my brothers and I are highly trained fighters,” he
Yet, Steve and Tim find themselves as
peacemakers between various parties at odds with each other
“I'm the American voice at the shura,”
Steve said. A shura is a meeting among village elders to
discuss government issues such as well digging, schools,
crops and food.
Steve was in the Deh Sabz district to
attend a shura with 46 village elders and he also meet with
the district police chief and the subgovernor. In passing,
he talked with village elders about a myriad of concerns
“You have to have the people on your
side to be an effective police force,” Steve said.
The brothers know this to be true firsthand, because their
father, the chief of police in Gordon, Neb., has served 31
years on the force. Their mother is a paramedic.
[Afghan National Police] are very willing to work. That's
enough for us,” Steve said. “We train them hard.”
Steve also is familiar with “jirga” -- a peacemaking meeting
between families feuding about major issues such as land
disputes. He said his role is to remain neutral and help to
find a mutual agreement. Some “blood feuds” have been going
on hundreds, if not thousands of years, he said.
may seem that the Brewer family has sacrificed enough, but
it turns out the siblings' uncle, their father's brother
Tom, is an Army colonel who also is serving in Kabul.
The colonel has 33 years in the Army and the Nebraska
National Guard as an infantry officer and he was wounded in
Afghanistan in 2003. He was the first field-grade American
officer to be wounded in action in Afghanistan, and he
received the Purple Heart for being hit six times by enemy
fire. He has spent five tours in Afghanistan.
the colonel is assigned to U.S. Central Command's counter
narcotics organization as an advisor for Afghan
counternarcotics police in Kabul.
“I have always been
proud of the boys,” the colonel said via email while
enjoying some leave back home. “They have been in both Iraq
and Afghanistan -- all infantrymen -- and Steve is
third-generation Army Ranger.
“The boys' grandfather
-- Ross, my father -- was a Korean War Airborne Ranger and
set a great example of for all of us,” he added. “The boys
have always been hard workers and good kids.”
Brewer also received a Purple Heart after being wounded by
an enemy bayonet, said Tim, noting his grandfather, now 83,
lives in Wyoming.
Todm said he sees his nephews about
every two to three weeks and on holidays such as
Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
And the family
tradition continues, as the colonel has a daughter enrolled
in the Army's ROTC program.
“My two younger brothers
impress me in every way,” Steve said. “My brothers are very
hard workers and honor us in the Army.”
say they see one or the other several times a week while
doing their missions. However, all three manage to get
together only once or twice a month, Bob said. “We just seem
to run into each other,” he added.
Andy, just graduated from high school. But, two of the
brothers say he most likely won't be wearing the uniform any
time soon, as college is on his horizon.
think he's going into the military,” Steve said. “My family
has sacrificed enough. It's time for another family to step
up to the plate.”
“I would agree about that,” Bob
said. “I think he's going to college.”
count him out,” said Tim, explaining that Andy does have
interest in what his brothers are doing in the Army.
For Tim, life is similar to Steve's, as he also serves as a
team leader with a police mentor team.
Tim went to
check on how things were going with “D3” -- directed
district development, a course similar to police basic
training -- at Police District 8. The eight-week course
provides formal instruction for recruits who also are
receiving on-the-job training as policemen.
with some of the course instructors to double-check that
procedures and classes -- such as one on the Afghan
constitution -- are followed and taught according to
schedule, he said.
Later that day, Tim visited Police
District 16, where he met with Police Chief Sayeed Farooq
Sadat to discuss overall operations.
“We let them
lead the way as much as possible,” Tim said. “They've been
doing a lot of stuff on their own.”
That day, topics
of discussion included a recent bust that yielded a cache of
weapons and hashish. The items confiscated were brought into
the office to show Tim.
Tim described the Bagrami
district as “one of the worst areas” of Kabul because of
drugs, land disputes and other issues. Like Steve, Tim
mentors directly with a police chief.
“I'll give them
ideas in training [and] patrols,” Tim said, but “I'm not
here to tell them what to do.”
focused on an operation planned for the next day to check on
some buildings suspected of insurgent activity. The plan
called for Tim's team to provide backup for Sadat's police,
and this would mean about three hours of sleep that night,
For the youngest brother, Bob, his work is
somewhat different as he conducts dismounted patrols in
search of roadside bombs, and also mentors Afghan soldiers
in supply and logistics.
“They have different views
on things,” he said.
Bob's team visited the Musahi
district, where insurgents have been trying to infiltrate
with explosives. At a new checkpoint, Afghan soldiers check
to make sure things are as they should be. Bob's job is to
check on the Afghan army.
A suicide bomber destroyed
the local government building and damaged several adjacent
buildings in April, including the subgovernor's center and
police district headquarters. No one was killed, but three
Afghans were injured, including two village elders.
Bob showed the rock wall about 10 feet high now being
rebuilt that once partitioned the building and police
district headquarters. The wall saved the lives of those
inside the headquarters building by absorbing much of the
Things have definitely changed from
the days when the Brewer boys were growing up near the Pine
Ridge Indian Reservation just north of Gordon across the
border in South Dakota. Instead of BB guns, they now have
the Army's most modern weaponry. Instead of romping around
in Nebraska, they're in Afghanistan.
“It's a good
support chain,” Bob said of having his older brothers here.
“It's definitely a family tradition," Tim said of the
Brewer family's military service. “I'm really glad I did
Article and by Jon Connor
American Forces Press Service
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