CAMP LEATHERNECK -- What do a pilot, motor transportation mechanic and an embarkation specialist deployed to Afghanistan have in common? For three Marines the answer is simple, they are brothers.
Gunnery Sgt. James K. Donnelly, a maintenance chief with 1st Maintenance Battalion (Forward), 1st Marine Logistics Group; Sgt. Thomas M. Baker, an embarkation specialist with I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward; and their brother Maj. Nathaniel A. Baker, an EA-6B Prowler pilot with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Forward had the opportunity to meet up on Camp Leatherneck regularly, when all three were deployed to Afghanistan at the same time.
Thomas was even promoted by two of his brothers to sergeant, during a ceremony on Camp Leatherneck, May 1.
“It was an honor and a privilege to have them out here with me on this deployment,” said the youngest Baker, a Bowling Green, Ky., native. “To have both of them promote me, it was just amazing. It was a very special time for me, and I believe it was a special time for them as well. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
“It was pretty cool,” said Donnelly. “Not everybody has that opportunity.”
Although Nathaniel has already returned home, the brothers got together to catch-up whenever they got a chance when all three were here.
“I always see Sgt. Baker at least once a week for a couple hours, and we just hang out or watch a movie,” said Donnelly. “(Maj. Baker) was only here for about a six-week period and he was always flying, but we went out to eat and spent some time together.”
The Bakers followed in their stepbrother’s footsteps after Donnelly joined the Marine Corps right after high school.
“I left for boot camp when I was 18,” said Donnely. “Sgt. Baker was about 7 years old at the time, and Maj. Baker lived with his father and stepmother. He was going to college then.
Several years later, after Thomas joined the Marine Corps, Donnelly met up with his younger brother while they were both training on the East Coast.
“We met back up again when I was going to staff academy in Augusta, (Ga.),” said Donnelly. “At the time Pfc. Baker was going to (military occupational specialty) school nearby on Camp Johnson. I would bring him home on weekends.”
In the future, the trio plans on returning to Kentucky where they will buy a farm and live and work together.
“At some point all of us plan on buying a big farm back home in Kentucky,” said Thomas. “We’re going to build a house on the property, and we talk about that.”
The brothers are proud of each other and are happy to have had the once in a lifetime opportunity to be deployed together.
“I cannot think of anything else I could be doing out here that I could be more proud of,” said Thomas. “I have to appreciate everything they do because it’s one team, one fight.”