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AL TAQADDUM, Iraq--Lance Cpls. Rebecca and Michael Nance, 20 and 21-years-old respectively, reunited here recently. So far from home, yet so close together. Rebecca, a mechanic attached to Combat Logistics Regiment 25 here, and Michael, with Marine Wing Support Group 27 in Al Asad, Iraq, are siblings from Moline, Ill. Michael is serving his second Marine Corps deployment while his sister is in the middle of her first. Michael joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and Rebecca joined the Marine Corps reserve the following year.

Photo by Cpl. C. Alex Herron

Siblings from Land of Lincoln meet amidst combat operations

16 Jun 2005 | Cpl. C. Alex Herron

When Marines deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, they sacrifice everything from jobs and family to the many conveniences of home.

For Lance Cpl. Rebecca Nance, 20, the challenge of being without family was eased when older brother, Michael, 21, also a lance corporal, traveled here for a day and was able to meet his younger sister who is a mechanic attached to Combat Logistics Regiment 25.

“Having the opportunity to see my brother while I’m here is great,” said Rebecca, a Marine reservist from 4th Maintenance Battalion in Rock Island, Ill. “He was deployed last year and we haven’t seen each other very much. It is nice to see him while he is in the middle of another deployment.”

The elder Nance, an operations clerk, was attached to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and deployed to Afghanistan for six months in 2004. When he returned to his original unit, Marine Wing Support Group 27 at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., he volunteered to serve with the group for a year in Al Asad.  

“I love to deploy,” Michael said. “I didn’t join the Marine Corps to sit on a base for four years. The camaraderie between everyone when we deploy is something everyone should experience.”

Rebecca is in the middle of her first deployment and is grateful to see this side of the Marine Corps.

“I’m glad I got the opportunity to deploy,” Rebecca said. “Michael has had the chance to deploy and experience different aspects of the Marine Corps. I’m glad I am able to see a small part of what he experiences on a regular basis.”

The two Moline, Ill., natives grew up around the military. From grandfathers to aunts and uncles, many of their relatives have served in the armed forces and would talk about their experiences with the two siblings.  In 2002, Michael joined the Marine Corps and the youngest followed suit the following year.

Michael always had the military in mind while growing up.  From wearing military clothing and gear, to making his sister participate in a game of “soldiers”, the two seemed to always engage each other in backyard combat.

“I remember he was a lot more tactical than I was,” Rebecca said. “Of course it was harder for me when I was wearing a military helmet with a pink dress.”

Playing war is a lot different than actually being a part of one, so when the Nance’s mother found out two of her children would be in a combat zone she understandably had a mix of emotions.

“Our mom is very proud of us,” Rebecca said. “She was a little nervous about both of us being here at the same time. She has gotten used to it though and the communication we have has helped a lot. She likes the way the Marine Corps takes care of things. She knows we will always be taken care of.”

Any mother who has children in a danger zone could understandably feel the same way. Having multiple children in harms way is no small burden to bear, but children who understand the importance of serving makes that stress a little easier.

“We both understand why we are here,” Rebecca said. “The work we do is vital to the mission. Individually we work hard to lend a hand to the fight, although serving in two different capacities we work to help the troops on the ground accomplish their mission.”

When Michael returns stateside, he will find his sister having returned to school to continue working towards a degree in architecture. They will once again swap stories about their experiences and share a bond only a few can understand; a brother and sister serving in Iraq.

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