CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq --
The bond between brothers is unbreakable. They grow up together, learning everything about life along the way. Putting those brothers in the Marine Corps and shipping them to Iraq takes that relationship to a whole new level.
The Maddux brothers are prime examples of the bond of brotherhood that transcends the blood they share. 1st Lt. Joseph K. Maddux, staff secretary and protocol officer for the 1st Marine Logistics Group and his older brother, 1st Sgt. Dave L. Maddux, first sergeant for Tango Battery, 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, have a strong connection between themselves and their families only further strengthened by the Corps.
“It’s not just a band of brothers in the Marine Corps, it’s also in the family,” Dave said, the oldest by two-and-a-half years and first to join the Corps.
“I remember going to his graduation from boot camp,” Joe said. “On the ride home, his question to me was ‘when are you going to go?’”
A high school sophomore at the time, Joe had no interest in the military but eventually joined after learning more from his brother.
“I talked to him about it and knew that it was a good thing from him.”
Being able to talk to his brother and share ideas continued throughout their time in the Corps. Travelling around the world and throughout the Corps, the Madduxes have left their foot print everywhere and now find themselves in Iraq. Throughout their various exploits, they both had a confidant they could rely on to discuss things that no one but a brother would understand.
“No one wants to ask the stupid question,” Dave said. “Instead of talking to a guy in the battery, I’ve got my brother that understands everything and probably has dealt with it too.”
The relationship works for Joe as well. Serving his first deployment to Iraq, he understandably had many questions. Questions he could turn to his brother for and receive a more personal answer.
“I feel weird because I don’t know (everything), but I can go behind the scenes and say ‘hey, how does this work?’” Joe said.
During Dave’s visits to Camp Taqaddum, the brothers manage to get together and share personal experiences, carrying on late-night discussions about the Corps, life and their families back home, who face their own problems.
Joe, with a son less than a year old and a 4-year-old daughter, leaves his wife Kara in charge, taking on full parenting responsibilities while he is serving his country.
They both admit deployment can be hard on the families but their closeness helps out back home as well.
“Both of our families are back there together in the same area,” explained Dave. “They live two miles from each other, so the kids can play with each other, (the families can) barbecue, hang out and having that is a good feeling.”
While they may be a world apart, both sides have someone they can relate to. Both have spouses with military experience who understand the workings of the green machine, but the separation still poses a problem.
“The other day I was talking to my wife and she’s telling me ‘it’s hot in California.’ I’m like, ‘yeah, it was kind of nice here today, balmy and a little windy,” joked Dave, explaining the extremely hot weather in Iraq.
The families half a world away may have a hard time understanding their conditions, but he has his brother who can relate to everything he’s going through. The sand storms, the heat, and all other experiences only shared by the brothers.
They’ve been through a lot together and through their careers have managed to overcome many obstacles. Dave, in particular, has dodged the ultimate bullet of saluting his younger brother.
“The first thing my dad said to me was ‘now you’ll have to salute your younger brother.’”
The respect is there, but the situation hasn’t presented itself to put them in the position. Now in Iraq, they can put it off for a while longer.
“I’d feel weird. It took a while to get used to (being saluted) anyway, much less from my older brother,” Joe said. “One of these days I’ll get him.”
Joe has a small window of time left to receive his salute. With his 18-year-mark approaching, Dave faces his next obstacle: retirement.
“I personally am (afraid of retiring).” Not in terms of getting another job, he explained, but of missing the Corps, his Marines and the lifestyle that goes with it.
“I don’t necessarily lose that when I retire because he’ll still be in the Marine Corps,” he said, referring to Joe.
Living vicariously through the younger brother, the Maddux Marines will continue to be present through out the Corps. Carrying on the tradition will be left up to other generations.
“We’re not trying to start a tradition but if it does start, so be it,” Dave said.