;CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- The holiday season is more than feast and football. It’s a time to reunite with family.
Two Marine brothers from Franklin, Tenn., did exactly that, and in the unlikeliest of places.
Lance Cpl. Ryan L. Tomlinson, 19, and his 21-year-old brother, Cpl. Erik W. Tomlinson, saw one another for just the second time in more than two years here Nov. 22.
Erik, an infantry squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, operates out of Habbaniyah, Iraq, which is only a few hundred yards outside Camp Taqaddum where Ryan, a combat correspondent with 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), has spent most of his deployment.
Erik didn’t know his brother’s whereabouts until recently.
“I was asking random people, and as luck would have it, another (combat correspondent) said my brother was here,” said Erik. “I thought he was in Fallujah!”
On his next visit to Camp Taqaddum, Erik found his brother’s office only to find out that, ironically, Ryan was in Fallujah, gathering notes for a series of news articles, and wouldn’t return for another week.
Erik made several more attempts to contact his brother but each was unsuccessful.
“The way fate had been tossing me around, I wasn’t counting on seeing him out here,” he said.
Fate tossed Erik back to Camp Taqaddum. This time, the brothers’ separate commands knew of their plight and orchestrated a reunion.
“Corporal Tomlinson is an outstanding Marine and (well respected) throughout his chain of command,” said 1st Sgt. Douglas Hamblen, first sergeant for Company L.
“(Reuniting the brothers) was an easy thing to do and there was no reason not to do it,” said Hamblen, gesturing towards the brothers, “and as you can see, they’re smiling from ear to ear.”
Ryan and Erik talked for a couple of hours. The matching name tapes on their uniforms caught a few Marines’ attention, but the two denied any striking physical resemblance.
“I have a huge lower lip,” admitted Ryan.
“…from getting punched repeatedly,” finished Erik, without missing his cue.
Ryan laughed it off, and later he had a few things to say about his “diabolical” older brother.
“He was always very clever, kind of an evil clever, always tricking me into doing things,” said Ryan, “but if anyone tried to pick on me, he’d always stick up for me.”
Ryan said his big brother played a large part in his decision to join the Marine Corps.
“(After Erik enlisted), I saw how much better he was – responsible, getting things done – it really leveled him out,” said Ryan. “He’s as goofy as I am… but I’d follow him anywhere.”
Erik also commented on how the Corps has affected his little brother.
“Physically he’s filled out, he stands a little bit taller, he’s definitely more responsible and mature… he definitely is ugly in cammies,” said Erik, and the two laughed.
“But if I took him out on operations with me, I could depend on him to do anything I asked of him,” continued Erik, as he looked directly at his brother. “I’m serious.”
The Tomlinson brothers are both scheduled to return to the states in February 2007.