|Brothers find themselves fighting side-by-side
By Sgt. Joshua R. Ford, Public Affairs Office, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Jun 30, 2007 – 6:20:15 PM
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Blackanthem Military News, CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Kelly Fletcher was 12 years old when he watched his brother enlist in the Army.
Over the years Kelly heard of his brother’s accomplishments during his service and when he was 15 decided that maybe he would serve.
Kelly was interested to hear about his brother’s experiences at Airborne and Ranger School and his deployments to Europe and the Middle-East.
“(Joining the service) was just a general thing that I’d wanted to do. I’d say (my brother serving) was a large factor, but not directly him, but more so because I knew about it because of him. So it was easier for me to decide,” said Kelly, an infantryman with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
At 20 years old Kelly decided to join the Army.
“When he told me he wanted to come into the Army, I was just totally stoked because it was a common plane that both of us could have,” said Sgt. 1st Class Neil Fletcher, an operations noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
“My brother came in and was unable to get an airborne contract initially when he came in at basic training. I kept telling him, hey listen, you need to volunteer for it, you need to volunteer for it,” said Fletcher.
After hounding his drill sergeants about airborne school Kelly got his contract and went to airborne school.
After Fletcher pulled some strings, he got his little brother into the same battalion he was in at the time.
Kelly remembers when he got to his first unit in the battalion and his platoon sergeant telling him not to get into trouble.
“No sergeant I don’t get into any trouble,” Kelly said to his platoon sergeant.
During the conversation Kelly’s brother’s name came up.
“Who’s your brother?” the platoon sergeant asked.
Kelly replied, “Sergeant First Class Fletcher.” Because of Neil’s reputation Kelly’s new platoon sergeant told him “I don’t even know why I’m worried about you then. I know you don’t have any problems.”
“It’s been interesting seeing the impressions people have of you because of our relationship,” said Kelly. “And it’s been interesting for me as a younger brother seeing peoples’ impressions of him as a (fellow) Soldier and co-worker. The only downside that I’ve thought about being his brother is that I won’t actually have the chance to work with him.”
In August 2006, the Fletcher brothers deployed to Iraq. Neil was with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and Kelly was with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The brothers were based close to each other covering the city of Samarra.
During the deployment, the Fletcher brothers got a chance to work together.
Neil Fletcher was leading his platoon through Samarra on a mounted patrol. A few blocks away Kelly was on a dismounted patrol when his platoon saw a vehicle traveling quickly towards them.
After using escalation of force procedures, Kelly’s platoon fired on the vehicle.
Over the radio Neil heard his brother reporting to his headquarters that shots had been fired at his position.
After Neil heard his brother over the radio, he directed his platoon to Kelly’s platoon’s position to help out with security.
Neil then got another report over the radio but this time it wasn’t his brother talking, worrying him that something had happened to Kelly.
“I’m thinking the worst because my brother’s the platoon (radio and telephone operator), he initiated the first transmission, but he’s not coming back saying anything else. So that kind of worried me a bit,” said Neil.
“We’re just hauling through the city trying to get there and several minutes are passing by and no one’s saying anything and we’re trying to get a hold of Charlie Company to get an updated (report),” said Neil. “In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, come on, Kelly, come on, come on; get back up on the net.”
Kelly was writing out a medical evacuation sheet for an Iraqi man wounded during the shooting when Neil’s platoon arrived.
“So sure enough, I see my brother’s trucks rolling up and (Neil) comes out and I see him, he comes up to see me and says, ‘you doing alright, man?’,” said Kelly. “I told him I was fine.”
“The moment I saw him there, I was actually very proud to tell you the truth,” said Neil.
Now the Fletcher brothers look back at the incident and laugh at it.
The Fletcher brothers are farther apart now, with Neil in Bayji and Kelly in Samarra, but they still communicate frequently.
“As a big brother to a younger brother type-of-thing, he worries about me a lot. He’s always telling me he keeps tabs on me from when he was at Brassfield,” said Kelly.
The Fletcher brothers agree that they have always had a close relationship and everything that has happened to them in Iraq has brought them even closer.
Kelly said he doesn’t know if he wants to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and be a career Soldier. He said there are other things he would like to experience outside of the Army but does not regret joining and getting the chance to serve with his brother.
“Well it’s been an experience, to say the least,” said Neil. “To be honest with you, I sometimes question my reasoning for wanting him down here with me. Other than that, it’s been pretty rewarding.”