SOUTHWEST ASIA — When oldest brother, Capt. Charles “Charlie” Thomson, went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in summer 2003, no one would have imagined the closest distance between all three Thomson brothers, including 1st Lt. William “Billy” Thomson and 2nd Lt. Joseph “Joe” Thomson, in the next 10 years would be from Kuwait to Afghanistan.
The brothers, all graduates of Waukesha West High School, are the three children of Jeff and Judy Thomson from Waukesha, Wis. Although the family is geographically separated, both parents are honored by their sons’ selfless service.
Judy, a middle-school teacher, and her husband, Jeff, participate in numerous military events throughout the year to express their appreciation for the men and women in uniform.
Fast-forward to early 2014 and the active-duty junior officers are all currently deployed in Southwest Asia supporting the war on terror.
Charlie is the intelligence officer for Fort Hood’s 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Billy works in the command group for the 130th Engineer Brigade which is serving as the Theater Engineer Brigade at New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan. And Joe is a route clearance platoon leader in the 576th Engineer Clearance Company at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan.
For the initial months of the 130th’s deployment, the 576th fell under their task force, until task organization realignment transferred operational control to Regional Command West on Jan. 1.
However, for the weeks between Veterans Day and Christmas, Billy and Joe were deployed within the same force structure in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, both as members of the Theater Engineer Brigade.
Coincidentally, while Billy traveled with the brigade command team on battle field circulation during that time, the two brothers were able to meet for breakfast and discuss lessons learned from Billy’s platoon time.
“I have been mentoring Joe my whole life; the only difference now is my advice will help keep him and his team safe against a ‘real’ opponent,” Billy said.
Joe was humbled to be involved in the conflict together with his brother.
“It has increased the camaraderie we created first as brothers, as best friends and now as two engineer officers connected by an event few Americans can relate to,” he said.
Many soldiers will say it is not uncommon for a deployment environment to allow for family, friends and classmates serving in the military together to reunite.
However, as the United States prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan, it has been a unique experience that the Thomson brothers, their parents, spouses and hometown community have shared and a story that will be passed on through generations of the family.