When oldest brother Capt. Charles "Charlie" Thomson went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in the summer of 2003, no one would have imagined that the closest distance between the three Thomson brothers — including 1st Lt. William "Billy" Thomson and 2nd Lt. Joseph "Joe" Thomson — for an extended period in the next 10 years would be from Kuwait to Afghanistan.
The brothers, all graduates of Waukesha West High School, are the three children of Jeff and Judy Thomson of Waukesha. Judyand Jeff participate in numerous military events throughout the year to express their appreciation for the men and women in uniform.
Now, in early 2014, the active-duty junior officers are all deployed in Southwest Asia supporting the War on Terror.
Charlie is the intelligence officer for 1-44 Air Defense Artillery Battalion at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. Billy works in the Command Group for the 130th Engineer Brigade, which is currently serving as the Theater Engineer Brigade at New Kabul Compound, Afghanistan. And Joe is a Route Clearance Platoon Leader in the 576th Eng. Clearance Company at Shindand Air Base, Afghanistan.
For the initial months of the 130th Eng. Bde.'s deployment, the 576th Eng. Co. fell under their task force, until task organization realignment transferred operational control to Regional Command-West on Jan. 1.
Between Veteran's Day and Christmas 2013, Billy and Joe were deployed within the same force structure in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
While Billy traveled during that time, the two brothers were able to meet for breakfast.
"I have been mentoring Joe my whole life; the only difference now is my advice will help keep him and his team safe against a 'real' opponent," Billy said.
Joe said, "It has increased the camaraderie we created, first as brothers, as best friends and now as two engineer officers connected by an event few Americans can relate to."
Judy remembers thinking of her sons at war when the youngest was commissioned in December 2012, "but I never dreamed having them all in harm's way at once would be reality."
"Despite the synonymous remorseful reaction from the public, my response is always the same: 'Don't apologize, and please pray for their safe return," Judy said. "We raised our sons to be independent and spread their wings; the Army has given them the opportunity, so for that I am grateful and proud."
The two youngest Thomson brothers will complete their missions later this spring, when Billy returns to his wife, Jessica, daughter, Halle (3 years), and son, Tate (1 year), at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and Joe to his wife, Hanna, at Fort Carson, Colo.
Charlie will finish his one-year deployment this fall, before being reunited with his wife, Denise, at Fort Hood, Texas.
In February 2014 while traveling briefly to Kuwait, Billy was also able to break away from work to enjoy a meal with older brother Charlie.
As the first of the Thomson brothers to make the decision to defend the nation during a time of war, he reminded him again, "The sacrifices we are making now will lead to a lifetime of satisfaction in the end."
Ultimately, their father looks forward to the next time the men are in the same room talking about the Wisconsin sports teams they love.
"But until then," Jeff said, "it is in the back of my mind all the time. I pray a lot and have faith."
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