TIKRIT, Iraq – There are many Soldiers who come from a long line of military history, but there are only a few who can say that they currently serve their country with their brothers and father.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Samuel Solhjem, a Walcott, N.D., native, and an assistant projects manager for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, out of Fort Riley, Kan., followed in the footsteps of his father and two older brothers by joining the military a year ago.
Samuel's father, Col. Thomas Solhjem, a chaplain with the 75th Ranger Regiment, has served in the Army for more than 35 years. His oldest brother, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Benjamin Solhjem, joined the military first and has served for six years. U.S. Army Capt. Thaddaeus Solhjem has served for three years and is a platoon leader with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
"It's unique because most people that I know don't have relatives or siblings that are in the military," said Samuel. "So, it's kind of cool to be able to say that I'm serving alongside my father and brothers."
Thaddaeus said that he's proud to be serving with his brothers but is even prouder to be serving alongside his role model – his father.
"He has never sat on the sidelines as a Soldier, chaplain or officer and never boasts about his accomplishments," he said.
Samuel and Thaddaeus are currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and agree that the hardest part about being in the military is being away from their family.
"The hardest part about serving is the separation," said Samuel.
"[It's] leaving the ones you love even though you understand it's temporary," said Thaddaeus. "Having to tell my wife goodbye for a year is hard even though that's the environment I grew up in and understand well."
Though being away from family is equally hard for 2nd Lt. Solhjem and Capt. Solhjem, the most fulfilling part about being in the military differs for the brothers.
For Samuel, it's getting the opportunity to deploy. But; for Thaddaeus, it's believing that he's a part of something bigger than himself and his ambitions.
"It's the very essence of the word team," said Thaddaeus. "No one person or part of the team is relevant without the other. Besides that, I am proud to be serving with the finest troop of cavalrymen ever assembled."
As for the future for the two Solhjem brothers, Samuel said that he hopes to see what Afghanistan is like one day and Thaddaeus said that he will remain in the military for as long as he and his wife, Deanna, are enjoying it but more than that, he hopes to one day be the example that his father has been to him and his brothers.
"I just hope that I can be half the man my father has exemplified to me over the years," he concluded.
This work, Generations of honorable service: The Solhjem family, by SGT Shantelle Campbell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.